The Christian’s Reasonable Service / Vol. 2 - Quotes

G

Puritan Board Senior
Your turn Ruling Elders, be reminded and encouraged by Brakel Vol.II, pg. 145 - 147

The Duties of an Elder
Their purpose for being in church is not to sit upon a soft pillow in front of the church, nor to imagine that they stand above other members and thus can order them around. They may also not behave as if they were lords and masters over the ministers, it being their duty to give heed to the doctrine and life of the ministers. It is also the task of ministers to give heed to the doctrine and life of the elders. They also may neither oppose the good counsel of the ministers within the consistory, nor deem it to be a masterpiece if they succeed in checkmating the minister. Neither is it intended that the elders be but “yes-men” who blindly follow the minister in his wishes. Rather, it is their task in all humility, and with wisdom and love, to assist the ministers in promoting the welfare of the church. As is true for ministers, the labor of elders is also twofold, for they perform these labors either individually or in cooperation with other consistories, Classes, and Synods.
Every elder has a duty toward the congregation. He must view himself as having been sent by the Lord to perform these labors. With this impression and in this capacity he must accept and perform all his labors.
Heeding the walk of every member (a little longer but MUCH needed):

Secondly, they must particularly give heed to the walk of each member. There must be careful supervision as to how one conducts himself at home; that is, whether there is love and harmony, and whether each member in his particular position of the household conducts himself properly towards others. They must inquire whether family worship is conducted, whether God‟s Word is read, whether the children are instructed, whether they are raised appropriately, whether they are attending school, and whether they are being trained for an honest profession. They must inquire whether the father of the home has an honest profession, as well as how he conducts himself in this profession. Elders must inquire what reputation each member has among the local population, in order that they may know how they ought to deal with each member. In one word, they must keep an eye upon everything, and if they are informed that something is not well somewhere, they must immediately make work of correcting the situation. For this purpose it is necessary for elders to divide the congregation into sections, similar to what ministers do in the cities. They will then be able to take much more careful note of things. Elders must not think that they have performed their duty if they accompany the minister onfamily visitation, even if they do not say a word. No, the purpose of this is to make this family visitation all the more credible, and to make a deeper impression upon the members concerning the necessity of preparation for the Lord‟s Supper. It will also enable them to assist the minister in word and deed if there are situations which require this, and to learn from the minister how to deal with souls. He is also to observe where the minister, upon having conducted family visitation, needs to visit to follow up whatever needs to be attended to. The elder must, however, also do this work himself.
P.S. Deacons are next.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
To Deacons, from pg. 151:

Secondly, they must distribute. In distributing funds they must use wisdom and caution, seeing to it that they do not give thoughtlessly. They must give most to those who have the greatest need, and less to those who are lazy and waste that which has been given to them, in order to teach them to work and to be frugal. Orphans, the aged, the sick, or mothers who have given birth each require a different approach. Those who are to blame for their poverty and who are capable of working must again be treated differently. This is also true for those who, due to a handicap, cannot work, even though they are healthy. It is again different with those who would rather perish from hunger with their families (which is a sin), than to allow it to be known that they are receiving something from the deaconry. A different approach is also needed for those who would be reduced to poverty unless some monetary help be given to them enabling them to remain solvent. Much wisdom is needed to clearly discern time, manner, and circumstances in making these decisions.

Thirdly, the deacons must also care for the souls of their poor, for they are as fathers to them; and whatever one member is obligated to do to another, they must excel in doing to those over whom the Lord has placed them.
(1) They must instruct the ignorant, and bring them to the church services and to catechism instruction.
(2) They must exhort, rebuke, and comfort according to individual circumstances.
(3) They must visit the sick, either preparing their souls for the hour of death, or exhorting them to increase in
godliness if they may again become healthy.
In doing so they will “purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ
Jesus” (1 Tim 3:13). They will be an ornament to the church, being enabled to be of more benefit to the church than before.
 
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G

Puritan Board Senior
Lastly for today, and may this leave you with much to dwell on this most blessed Lord’s Day, pg. 155 for ALL Officers (both unfaithful and faithful) to consider when our Lord will ask for an account:

How dreadful will this investigation and interrogation be for many overseers! How pitiful and dreadful will be the sentence that will be pronounced upon them! If only they had never been born and had never been an overseer! What will it be to perish due to one‟s own sins, and then also to be burdened by so many souls! They will see you in the last judgment and rise up against you, saying, “You knew very well that I was ignorant, and that I lived in sin. If you had looked after me—had warned, rebuked, instructed, and led me in the way of salvation—I would have been saved. Look, however, you unfaithful minister, you unfaithful elder, I am now going lost! Let God require my blood from your hand, and deal with you as a wicked and lazy servant!”

However, what a precious moment it will be for faithful ministers, elders, and deacons when the Lord will make manifest their labors, their prayers for the congregation, their special discourses, their exhortations, their warnings, and the manner in which they gave direction to souls. He will then cause them to enter into glory, saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt 25:21).
 
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G

Puritan Board Senior
Brakel, Pg. 169 & 179 regarding The Relationship of the Civil Government to the Church:

Pg. 169:
Fourthly, members of the clergy and the entire congregation, each in their own position, are obligated to honor and obey the civil government conscientiously—with heart and in deeds. They are to do so not by way of compulsion, but in an affectionate manner, out of love for God, whose supremacy and majesty are reflected in the office of civil government. No one is released from the duty of rendering honor and obedience simply because he is a member of the clergy or of the church. This is true even if the civil government is either pagan, Islamic, heretical or Christian, good or evil, godly or ungodly, compassionate or severe. It is the duty of elders to stir everyone up to render such honor and obedience. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” (Rom 13:1).
Pg. 179:
How blessed is the church and the civil state which functions in this way, and where the church and the civil government, each within their own sphere of influence, are faithful in the discharge of their tasks!

We thus observe that none ought to be of the opinion that the government is not to be involved in the church at all, ought not to be concerned about her, and ought merely to be the blind executor of whatever the church wishes her to carry out. There is a certain Jus majestatis circa sacra; that is, a rightful claim, power, or duty of civil governments with regard to that which is holy. The Belgic Confession speaks of this in Article 36:

And their office is, not only to have regard unto, and watch for the welfare of the civil state; but also that they protect the sacred ministry; and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship; that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by everyone, as He commands in His Word.


It is the duty of civil government to uphold not only the second table of the law, but also the first. It must see to it that God is honored. It may not tolerate any idolatry, worship of images, or any false religion within her jurisdiction, but must rather eradicate these. It must prevent the vain use of God‟s Name practiced by cursing, swearing, and blasphemy. It must prevent the desecration of the Sabbath, punish violators of this commandment, and see to it that the gospel is proclaimed everywhere within its jurisdiction. It must see to it that the church, as the darling of the Lord Jesus, is protected and preserved; and that neither internal dissension nor any external oppression disturb or destroy the church, but that instead she be safely preserved in the use of the privileges and liberties which her King Jesus has given her
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
^When did the influence of the Libertines seem to begin to have a bigger following within Reformed circles? Maybe with the USA?

Brakel says on page 169:

We are also opposed to the view of the libertines who insist that the government may not be involved with religion at all, but must permit every religion and its territory to proclaim whatever it wishes.
In some of my local circles, this seems to be the popular view even in those with confessional leanings and obligations.
 
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