Erring Christians, Spiritual Extortion, & The Need For Strong Elders – Notes/Study Sheet
(I Peter 5:2-4)
* James Garfield was an elder in the church. Regarded that role higher than the presidency (rightly so).
* Elders oversee the flock where they attend (Heb. 13:17; I Pet. 5:2).
* They must admonish us when we’re in spiritual danger (I Thess. 5:12). Admonish: includes encouragement & reproof.
* Devout soul appreciates admonishing, weak Christian resents it. Resisting such is rebellion against God (I Sam. 8:7).
1. Practice of “flight” or running to avoid prosecution in Criminal Law.
* Some criminals are known as “flight risks:” they run away to avoid punishment/correction.
* Some church members do the same! They call it “withdrawing membership.” They think they’ll be free of
responsibility by “jumping jurisdictions.”
* One must be accountable where the misdeed occurred.
* If elders try to correct erring brothers/sisters, they sometimes resist and become a “flight risk” – move or threaten to
move their membership.
* Congregational membership both an obligation and an option.
- Corporate obligations (Acts 20:7; Heb. 10:25; 13:17).
- Option of choosing which congregation of the Lord’s church one wishes to worship with/identify with.
* When one places him/herself under leadership of elders, they are subject to their rule.
* If one wishes to leave, any unfinished business must be tended before so doing! Can’t run to escape discipline!
2. Spiritual Extortion.
* Extort - to obtain from another by coercion or intimidation. Applies to more than just money.
* Spiritual Extortion is exercising threats against church/elders to get one’s way. It’s an act of cowardice!!
* It violates “Golden Rule” (Matt. 7:12) & principles of dealing w/others (Matt. 18).
* Threats like, “If thus and such happens, I won’t be back” or “Support this work, or I won’t contribute” are examples!
* True, loving brethren don’t resort to such! Genuine Christians are honest and will confront others openly.
* Who helps spiritual extortionists? Weak elders!
3. What can elders do?
* They must recognize the marks of a genuine Christian.
* Evaluate the would-be extortionists. Do they believe certain aspects of denominationalism? Dislike negative
preaching? Do they respect the scriptures? (Clearly not, if trying to extort). Do they believe we shouldn’t judge? (Mt.
7:1). Jesus taught otherwise (John 7:24).
* Elders must study & know their duties (I Cor. 5:5,11; II Thess. 3:6; Titus 1:9-11; Titus 3:10-11; Rom. 16:17-18).
* Confront the extortionists! Shine the light of God’s Word on them!
* Elders must realize the consequences of their action or inaction. Spiritual extortionists are dogs! (Phil. 3:2).
* Elders must pray.
* Elders, get help from strong brothers if needed. Paul had Barnabas (Acts 13:46). Peter & John had each other (Acts
4:19-20). Aaron & Hur helped Moses (Exodus 17:12). Abishai helped David defeat Ishbi-benob (II Sam. 21:15-17).
* Elders must fail to give in! Don’t quit! Don’t resign in the face of difficulty! Spiritual extortion is about power!
* Don’t let their threats cause you to worry about attendance, giving, lies that might be spread, etc.
* Better to have 30 strong, faithful, members than to have 300 like those in Rev. 3:17!
* Matt. 12:30: Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”
R.W. McAlister 10/11/09 p.m.