The Meaning of Office
Every army has to have officers, and the church is the army of the Lord of Hosts. The leaders of this army fill the offices of the church. They play a vital role in the mission of Christian Reconstruction — the mission that fulfills God’s marching orders to His people.
An “office” is a position and a task to which Christ has appointed us. It is always functional and never merely titular. It involves hard work for the Lord — “But we request you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work”(1 Thes. 5:12-13).
An “officer” who will not do his required work and fulfill his vocational task is a contradiction in terms! “Preachers” who do not really preach, “ruling elders” who do not really guide, and “deacons” who do not really help are the henbane (a plant, the roots, leaves, and seeds of which are poisonous) of the church. If, after loving correction, they cannot or will not function in those official roles, they should be removed from the ministry of that special office, and instead rather be encouraged to function in the general office of all Christians.…[A]ll occupants of the special office should be encouraged and are worthy of honor. Indeed, those special officers who function praiseworthily — such as those “elders who rule well” — need to be counted worthy of double respect and honor. For a faithful officer is one who works — and who works well!1
The Meaning of Christian Reconstruction
How are church officers crucial to the renewing work of Christian Reconstruction? Before explaining, we need to answer another question. What is Christian Reconstruction?
Christian Reconstruction is how we carry out the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1:28 and the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-21. This Mandate and Commission comprise a unity. They must not be set against each other. The Great Commission is Christ’s restatement of the Dominion Mandate taking into consideration fallen man’s need of redemption. So then, Christian Reconstruction is the work of rebuilding and renewing every idea, activity, relationship, motive, and institution of human society by the Word and Spirit of God, beginning with the human heart. Our motivation is Christ’s Person. Our basis is Christ’s work. Our power is Christ’s Spirit. Our pattern is Christ’s humanity. Our governing authority is Christ’s deity. Our strategy is Christ’s Word. Our hope is Christ’s victory. Our mandate is Christ’s law. Our food is Christ’s sacraments. Our aim is Christ’s glory. That is Christian Reconstruction.
The Officers of the Local Church and Christian Reconstruction
The local congregation is the base of Christian Reconstruction. It is the “army camp” (Rev. 20:9) of the Army of the Lord of Hosts, i.e., the church. It is our base of operations from which we make our advances and assaults upon the enemy, against which the gates of hell will not prevail (Mt. 16:18). The local church is the source of programs, strategies, and tactics of Christian Reconstruction, creating alternatives such as Christian homes, schools, service organizations, etc., to failed institutions in an apostate culture. It is the place of basic training for reconstruction (Eph. 4:7-16). The officers prepare, train, and equip the congregation for battle with Satan and his forces of anti-Christianity.
In Christian Reconstruction, three kinds of participants are needed: People of Vision, consumed with the victory of Christianity who understand it and effectively communicate it; Managers of the Vision, who manage the vision of the triumph of the gospel in all aspects of human society with wisdom, zeal, and patience; and Implementers of the Vision, who carry out and practically apply the vision to everyday life, with a view toward advancing the goal of global triumph of Christ’s Kingdom. Church officers are to identify, train, equip, and mobilize these kinds of soldiers from the local congregation.
Preaching elders preach and teach, and in so doing, enlist, motivate, excite, and instill the vision of Christian Reconstruction in the hearts of the congregation. Preachers should be visionaries, in the best sense of the word, in that they possess an extensive understanding of the Vision, are consumed with it, and are able to communicate it to others effectively. Preachers, by the grace and power of God, should not only train and equip the congregation in “the big picture.” They should also reproduce People of Vision. They should seek out people in the congregation who are innovative, creative, inventive, and articulate to motivate and train them to be the conservers and communicators of the Vision.
Ruling elders rule, serve, shepherd and guide, and in so doing, lead and encourage others. They are the Managers of the Vision and the resources of the congregation. Elders should work to reproduce, train, and motivate Managers of the Vision from the congregation, raising up leaders for the future.
Deacons serve the health-education-welfare needs of the congregation and assist the elders in carrying out the directions and strategies of the Session. In so doing, they assist the congregation as Implementers of the Vision. Deacons should reproduce, train, and motivate. Without this kind of participant, the Vision is dead. Of course, these are not airtight categories. There is much overlapping of responsibilities and expertise.
The Unity of Function Among Church Officers
How do these different officers work together to carry out the church’s mission?
The following quotation by the famous and beloved South African Reformed scholar and poet, Totius, answers that question. It should be taken figuratively, not literally, because Christ alone is the organic and organizational head of the church.
The body of Christ as revealed in the local congregation not only has a head which thinks (the preacher), and a hand which rules (the elders), but it also has a heart that loves (the deacons)…. It is with our head and heart that our inner life expresses itself. Thus, through its head (preacher), its hand (elders), and its heart (deacons), as organs installed in the body for that very purpose, the congregation exhibits its intellectual energy, its power to rule, and its vital love. Moreover, the most glorious interaction obtains among the three organs and the body itself. For example, the heart needs the body, but the body too needs the heart just as much. The deacon needs the congregation, but the congregation needs the deacon too. If the congregation has no love, the deacon will not be able to exhibit love. And conversely too, if there is no deaconate, the congregation then lacks its actual instrument of love.2
The church exists to carry out God’s will: to bring all human institutions and relationships under the law of God and the lordship of Christ. This is our vision of Christian Reconstruction.
This mission must be an organized, directed effort. Church officers, in their different but complementary roles, provide both organization and direction. We must fill these offices with care.
Soli Deo Gloria.
1 . F. Nigel Lee, Triune Office, unpublished paper.
2. Quoted by F. Nigel Lee, Triune Office, unpublished paper.