SOME PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS
There is no vagueness about what God Almighty is doing through Jesus Christ. While I have certainly not provided an exhaustive coverage of the subject, the direction of Divine intent is quite clear. Our Father is preparing us for the future, and in the process revealing to loft heavenly personalities how wise He is in doing so. He has no intention of building an earthly empire, much less a local religious dynasty. What He is doing in the church will blend with eternity. After the heavens and the earth have passed away, what He has accomplished in Christ Jesus will have prepared the saved for an eternity of fellowship with God and Christ, and a work with them as well. A considerable amount of "church" activity never takes these things into consideration.
While this may seem rudimentary, its truth can escape us. At no point does God depart from His "eternal purpose." There is not a single aspect of individual or corporate spiritual life that is not immediately associated with God's revealed objectives. If we approach the work of elders and deacons as though it were not related to what God has done and is doing in Christ, we inevitably step out of the will of God. It makes little difference how valid our view may appear, if it is fundamentally out of harmony with the will of God, it will not and cannot be blessed by Him. In fact, and you may be sure of this, it will be opposed by God. If that opposition is not revealed in this world, it will be made quite clear on the day of judgment. Then all men will give an account for why they dared to make plans and conduct their business without due regard for God’s revealed will.
The church is not a mere social institution. Its purpose is not to provide a haven from the monotonous overtones of mundane life. It is not primarily a place to make friends and solidify the community. The charge of the church is not to provide a place for young people to get off of the streets, or old people to seek refuge from boredom. All of this may serve some limited purpose, but it had better not become the charter of any congregation. I suppose these are fine in their place; but that place is not, nor has it ever been, a place of preeminence. The agendas of men must not be allowed to drive the affairs of the church of the Living God. Whatever can be done without God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, cannot be too important. If the Word of God, the purpose of God, and the will of God can be easily pushed into the background of ANY activity, that activity ought to be dropped immediately.
If there were no remission of sins, no end of the world, and no "world to come," there would be no need for the body of Christ or for the work of an elder. Let your mind take hold of this. If there was no heaven or hell, there would be no need for the church. If there was no world to come, no day of judgment, and no eternal life, there would be no need for any church, local or otherwise. Elder and deacons, as well as Christians themselves, would be entirely out of place. In fact, apart from the revealed purpose of God, there is no need for Jesus Himself! No child of God – particularly a leader in Christ's body – can afford to forget that.