Gift and Office.

T. B. Baines.

The confusion of gift and office has led to great disorder and wide departure from God's thoughts. In Eph. and Cor., where we have teaching with respect to gift, office is not named. Complete instruction as to the latter is contained in 1. Tim., where the subject is the administration of the House of God. Gift is the provision by the ascended Christ for the building up of His body, the Church. While responsibility is associated with the ordering of the Church administered by man. Scripture names elders (overseers or bishops) and deacons. Both were ordained by apostles or apostolic delegates and exercised their office in the assembly of their city, which consisted of all believers in the city who were gathered together. Because no such assembly is now found, there can be no longer any officers, similar to those named in Scripture. Even if there could be a restoration to Church unity in any particular town, it would still be impossible to have officers, as there is no longer any scriptural mode of ordaining them. Man may invent substitutes, but they are mere arrangements of human convenience without Scriptural sanction. The use of the same names as given to the officers in the apostolic Church is misleading: a denial of the Church's ruin and an usurpation of apostolic authority. The distinction between gift and office is important, for had gift been dependent upon office, it must have ceased. As it is, office has ceased through failure and disorder, but grace bestowed by the ascended Christ is as free as ever. (Extract from T. B. Baines, 1879).