Guidance from the Lord
Our Lord Jesus runs his church by graciously working through his Word and Spirit. Part of how he does so is by making fallible humans to be officers in his church (see Eph. 4:11–12; Acts 20:28). Church government is not a human invention. It’s the structure that the exalted Christ himself gives to the life of his body.
In order to do this, our Lord guides and enables the people in the church to recognize the men of his choice for the offices. We see an example of this in Acts 6. But how does he guide them? Romans 12:1–2 answers this way: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
These verses appeal to believers to respond in obedience to the salvation that God has given. Considering all that God has done in Christ and by the Spirit (Rom. 1–11), it is only reason-able that we should serve him by offering our bodies as a living sacrifice. We should devote ourselves to God in all that we are and do. God issues this summons to each believer.
But how peculiar! “Bodies” is plural and “sacrifice” is singular! It seems sort of like saying, “We is a Presbyterian.” Moreover, it’s not only “sacrifice” that is singular, but also “living,” “holy,” “acceptable,” “reasonable,” and “worship.” In this way, God’s Word makes a very important point: each of us is to offer himself to God, but all of us are to do so together to make up one living and holy corporate sacrifice (cf. Eph. 4:15–16).
The fruit of this gospel obedience will be that “by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” In other words, as God’s people devote themselves to seeking their Lord—listening to Christ speaking by his Word and Spirit, and following in faith — he supernaturally changes them from the inside out by renewing the way they think. Then they will together be able to discern and accept what God’s will is. Then they together will be able to understand and embrace what their Lord wants. In this way, the Head of the church guides his people to discern those whom he has chosen for church office.