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Sermons & Study Guides

Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government Pt. 16 - Of Ordination Of Ministers.

James Dodson

Form Of Presbyterial Church-Government

Of Ordination Of Ministers.

Under  the  head  of  Ordination  of  Ministers  is  to  be  considered,  either  the  doctrine  of ordination, or the power of it.

Question  1.—Does the Scripture hold out ordination of ministers to be an ordinance of Christ? Answer.—Yes.  Rom.  10:15;  Heb.  5:4.    Thus  do  they  err  who  hold  a  universal allowance  to  preach  apart  from  Christ’s  ordinance.    They are  confuted  for  the  following reasons: 1.) In the Old Testament, not only the high priest, but all other priests and Levites were by divine appointment inaugurated to their ministerial offices, Lev. 8:2-13; Num. 8:9-14.  When any unconsecrated men intruded themselves into the priestly or Levitical office they  were  remarkably  punished  by God himself,  Num.  16:1-3,  25-33.   Now,  these things were  written  for  our  instruction,  Rom.  15:4.    The  prophet  Isaiah  confirms  the  application when  he  says  God  will  take  from  among  Christians  some  to  be  priests,  and  some  to  be Levites, Isa. 66:21; using Old Testament titles for New Testament ministers.  Paul himself confirms this understanding, Rom. 15:16.  2.) In the very choice of deacons, which was an inferior  office  and  serving  only  for  the  distribution of  the  temporal  estates  of  people,  the apostles  required  they  be  ordained  to  office,  Acts  6:6.   3.)  That  even  the  apostle  Paul, though chosen immediately by Christ unto the great office of preaching unto the Gentiles, and  that in  a  miraculous  way,  yet  notwithstanding  it  was the  pleasure  of  the  Holy  Ghost that he must be separated and set apart by men for this great work, Acts 13:1-4.  4.) That Paul and Barnabas who were themselves separated to the work of the ministry, Acts 13:1, went  about  ordaining  elders  in  every  church,  Acts  14:23.   5.)  Titus  was  left  at  Crete  to ordain elders in every church, which surely had been vain and superfluous, if ordination is not an institution of Christ and necessary in his Church, Tit. 1:5.  6.) Timothy was ordained not only by the laying on of Paul’s hands, 2 Tim. 1:6; but also the laying on of the hands of the  presbytery,  1  Tim.  4:14.    Now,  by  laying  on  of  hands is  meant  the  whole  work  of ordination, and hence we see the will of the Holy Ghost that not only Paul an apostle, but Timothy an evangelist must be set apart unto his office by ordination.  7.) That Timothy is commanded  to  lay  hands  on  no  man  suddenly,  1  Tim.  5:22; this  negative  implies  an affirmative, that it was his office to lay on hands, to ordain elders, but his care must be not to do it rashly and unadvisedly upon men insufficient, lest he should be made partakers of other  men’s  sins.    8.)  Timothy  is  commanded  to  commit  the things  which  he  had  heard from Paul to faithful men who be able to teach others, 2 Tim. 2:2.  Here we have—first, a separation  of  some  men  to  be  teachers  in  Christ’s  Church;second,  the  qualifications  of these teachers—faithful men, able to teach others; third, we have an injunction laid upon Timothy that he should commit what he had heard of Paul unto these faithful men.  Now, this committing was not by way of instructing only, but by way of ordination.  Paul charges Timothy  not  so  much  to  make  others  fit  to  teach  others, as  to  set  apart  men  for  the teaching  of  others,  that  there  might  be  a  perpetual  succession.    9.)  They  are  called ministers  and  ambassadors  of  Christ  and  the  New  Testament,  1  Cor.  4:1;  2  Cor.  3:6;  2 Cor. 5:20. 
Question 2.—Is there a doctrine of ordination? Answer.—Yes. Heb. 6:1, 2.  Laying on of hands, or ordination, is not only reckoned an institution  of  Christ,  but it  is  one  of  the  principles of  the doctrine  of  Christ.    Imposition  of hands  was  used in the  ordination  of  office  bearers  in  the  church,  both  extraordinary  and ordinary, 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22; Acts 6:6.  In the apostle’s estimation, the doctrine of ordination is  necessary  for  the  grounding  of  people  in  religion.   God’s  people  need  to  know  what offices  and  office  bearers  he  has  ordained  for  ordinary edification  and  ruling  and maintaining of his church unto the end of the world, that they may acknowledge such as are sent of God, and submit themselves unto them, Heb. 13:17. Question 3.—Is there a power of ordination? Answer.—Yes.   1   Tim.   5:22.      The   inherent   power   of   ordination resides  in   the presbytery.  The words of the apostle are decisive as to the parties with whom the power of ordination is lodged, 1 Tim. 4:14. Question 4.—What is ordination? Answer.—We   must   distinguish   between   the   power   of   order   and   the   power   of jurisdiction; by virtue of the former,  men  may act as  ministers: 1.) To preach the word of God,  2  Tim.  4:2.    2.)  To  administer  the  sacraments,  1 Cor.  11:23.    3.)  To  visit  the  sick, Ezek.  34:4.    4.)  To  catechize  the  young  or  ignorant,  Gal.  6:6.    5.)  To  admonish  those under him, 1 Thess. 5:12.  Ordination is the commissioning, by the presbytery or assembly of the church, to act in this way on behalf of the church, Acts 14:23. The  power  of  jurisdiction  comprehends  those  things  which  a  minister  cannot  do himself,  nor  by  virtue  of  his  ordination;  instead,  they must  be  done  by  a  session, presbytery  or  synod,  Acts  6:6;  13:3;  or  sometimes  by  a  minister  or  ministers,  having commission  and  authority  from  the  same,  Acts  15:22,  25.    By  power  of  jurisdiction,  the following  exist  in  the  church:  1.)  Ordination  and  admission,  1  Tim.  5:22;  Rom.  14:1.    2.) Suspension, deprivation and excommunication, 1 Cor. 5:13.  3.) Receiving again into the church, 2 Cor. 2:6, 7.  4.) Making of laws and constitutions ecclesiastical, Acts 15:28, 30, 31; 16:4, 5.  Thus, there is no ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the hands of one man, 1 Tim. 4:14. The power of order is the radical and fundamental power, 1 John 1:3; it is by this that a minister is susceptible and capable of the power of jurisdiction, 2 Cor. 8:4.  The power of order  goes  no  further  than  the  conscience,  Acts  17:11;  the  power  of  jurisdiction  is exercised in external and ecclesiastical courts, 2 Tim. 2:2; John 9:22.  The power of order is  sometimes  unlawful  in  the  use,  yet  it  is  not  void  in  itself,  Mark  9:38-40;  the  power  of jurisdiction,  when  it  is  used  unlawfully  is  also  void  in itself,  John  16:2.    Discerning  the power  of  order in  a  person is the lawful  vocation  of  all believers,  John  10:4,  5;  Acts  6:3; yet,  no  believers,  apart  from  acting  in  their  representative  capacity,  can  invest  any individual  with  a  power  of  jurisdiction  over  any  but  themselves,  Acts  13:3,  4.    Thus,  the consent  of  the  people  to  make  someone  their  teacher  or  pastor  (i.e.,  to  discern  and establish the power of order), when lawful ordination cannot be had (i.e., when there is no extended lawful jurisdiction—no power of jurisdiction), the necessity of order, 1 Cor. 14:40; makes  their  choice,  or  acquiescence,  a  valid  discernment  of  that  power  of  order,  1  Pet. 4:10,  11.    Although  necessity  cannot  create  a  power  of jurisdiction,  whereby  it  could declare something valid by asserting it to be lawful, 2 Chron. 11:15; it does create a power of  order  whereby  that  which  might  otherwise  be  unlawful  is  made  valid  and,  through  its validity, lawful, Matt. 12:2-8.