Is the Lot the Only Biblical Way to Ordain?

If you grew up in an Anabaptist setting, ordinations were the height of suspense and anticipation. Every church in the surrounding area for miles knew whose names were in the lot and when the ordination would be. Churches were packed with visitors who came to watch the proceedings whenever there was an ordination.

As a curious child, ordinations were an entertaining event to attend. It was rather like a Mennonite version of the TV show Survivor and we got to see “who will make it” and “who will get picked off”– all in live studio. The air crackled with suspenseful solemnity. Adults cried and children stared.

In adulthood, that entertainment factor Men that I knew well and respected were affected deeply by the outcome of the lot. Sometimes the things that happened during and after the lot were deeply painful for those whose names were in it.

There are aspects of the lot that I really don’t like. Some of it is because of those close friends who have shared some of their painful experiences, and some of it is because I have begun to question if it is really the prescribed New Testament practice.

Using the lot to choose our leaders is one of those things that is not questioned by most because just like many of our other practices, it’s “the way we have always done it”. But what is the most common way leaders were chosen in the New Testament?

Anabaptists base their practice of using the lot from the account found in Acts 1:20-26.

20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.  21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,  22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto the same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.  23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.  24 And they prayed, and said, Thou Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen.  25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.  26. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

The only other account we have of the lot being used in the New Testament is found when soldiers cast lots for Jesus’s clothes. In all the other instances when leaders were ordained, there is no mention of a lot being used. I realize that is not necessarily evidence that the lot was not used, but it is also not pointed to as being the method, nor are we commanded at any point to use the lot.

Since the New Testament does not give a clear directive regarding the method for electing leaders, we can only look at the examples given in Scripture and draw our own conclusions for what is the best way from those examples and from experience.

The first thing that stood out to me in looking at the appointment of leaders is that when the lot was used to choose Matthias, it was done to fulfill an Old Testament prophesy and the method used to find God’s will was a method that we find spoken of frequently in the Old Testament. The second thing that stands out is that it occurred before Pentecost and before the Holy Ghost had fallen upon the church. After the Holy Ghost came, there is no specific mention of the lot being used again.

The first instance that we have of men being appointed to leadership positions after Pentecost is found in Acts 6:1-6.

1 And in those days, when the number of disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.  2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.  3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.  5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:   6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

In this account, the multitude simply chose seven men that they knew to be honest and full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. The apostles then prayed and laid their hands on them. Nothing is mentioned about lots.

In Acts 14:21-23, we see Paul and Barnabas ordaining elders in every church they planted.

21. And when they (Paul and Barnabas) had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra and to Iconium, and Antioch,  22. Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God  23. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Again, nothing is really mentioned of the method used here except that it was done with prayer and fasting. It is also evident that the church planters were part of the process. In my Strong’s Concordance, this word “ordained”(5500) is defined this way: 1. To vote by stretching out the hand 2. To create or appoint by vote: one to have charge of some office or duty 3. To elect, create, appoint

This doesn’t seem like the process of a lot.


In Titus 1:5, Paul gives Titus instructions to ordain elders in every city.

5. For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

This word “ordain” is not the same word that is used in Acts 14. This word (2525) means “to set, place, put”. Again, there is no evidence of the lot being used. There is only instruction from Paul to Titus to ordain leaders in the same way that Paul had “appointed” him.

The last verse that I want to point out yet is found in Acts 20:28

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

In this verse we see the Holy Ghost as being involved it the establishing of overseers. Anabaptist tend to view the work of the Holy Spirit as being a subtle, not really noticed, influence in the lives of mankind. Regardless of how you view the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of man today, this is not an accurate description of how the Holy Spirit worked in lives of the apostles, disciples, or the early church.

Throughout the New Testament, when mention is made of the Holy Ghost revealing anything to the apostles or disciples, it’s not ever through a lot. The Holy Ghost revealed things to them in a very direct manner with words, pictures, visions, and dreams. In other words, they did not need a lot to show them what God wanted them to do. The Holy Spirit was a real Person to them and led them clearly.

I don’t believe it is wrong to use the practice of the lot to ordain a minister. That may be the only way for churches who do not hear the voice of God through the Holy Ghost to have the will of God revealed. However, I do not believe it is the method that men that are “filled with Holy Ghost and power” use to appoint leaders.


Has the use of the lot impacted your life? I have heard from four different families who have gone through some pretty negative things as a result of the lot. What has your experience been? Positive or negative, I would like to hear it. I am planning to share some of these things in a later post. If you wish to share confidently, please email me. No names will be used.


35 thoughts on “Is the Lot the Only Biblical Way to Ordain?

  1. Did you read my mind? I have thought some of these exact same thoughts!

    I would point out this: the Holy Spirit can move in many ways and speak in many ways, when He is present and allowed to lead. One of those ways, I am sure, is the lot. However, here’s the question: if a church is not being led by the Holy Spirit, does He still direct through the lot? What if the person that He actually wants was never nominated to the lot? Or what if none of those in the lot–or even the church–are qualified to be church leaders?

    Great article! I look forward to hearing more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Joel,
      You bring up some more good questions. 🙂 I think that God can still direct through the lot even if a church is not led by the Holy Spirit. Romans 13:1 says that all authority is instituted by God. But I see some people questioning the legitimacy of any ordinations that are not done by the lot.

      But I think you have a point in that, churches who are not sensitive to the Holy Spirit may not put the name in there that would be God’s best choice. Even Samuel could have anointed the wrong son of Jesse had he not heard God telling him that the one Samuel thought was the right one was not God’s perfect choice. Some of this I’m hoping to dig into some in the next post. Maybe you have some more thoughts on this as well?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Good article. I remember the lot being used at another church when I was in my teens. There were three younger men in the lot, all were married and all were good candidates for the ministry. But the one chosen was not the one favored by a number of the people in the church and they were very disappointed. In the end, all three men and their families left that church. The other two men who were not selected by lot became pastors in other churches. The church dwindled and later combined with a sister church. From my perspective, the use of the lot that day, for that church, was a major contributing factor in its decline.


      • Another way of saying it is that they believe in using the lot before the selection occurs, but after the one is selected, they question if the one selected by the lot is the one that God really chose or if chance or something else happened.

        The real issue is how does a church discern God’s will? Conservative Anabaptists tend to be very uncomfortable with someone who hears God speak to them and who gets their direction from God. There is a fear of where that will go. For an conservative Anabaptist church group then, how do they get their direction of who God would have to be their pastor? That is why the lot is used because they are hesitant to hear God speak to their heart and give them direction or they may not be able to discern if or when God is speaking to them.

        Bill Gothard a number of years ago told a group of us men how he got his direction from God. He would go to a room by himself and “use the lot” so to speak. He would flip a coin a certain number of times. Heads meant yes and tails meant no. Now knowing that Bill Gothard was a false teacher, I realize that his method of getting direction from God was also faulty. Because of the sin in his life and the sin that he was covering up in his organization, the Holy Spirit was not giving Him guidance. That is why he had to resort to flipping a coin. He would then report the direction that “God” gave.

        One problem with the lot is that it always works even if God is not guiding in the process. The law of chance is still at play just like rolling dice or flipping a coin. A random person will be selected. If you add an extra book, there is the random chance that no one will be selected. The use of the lot is an act of “forcing” God to give direction in a specific way and then saying that this person is the one God chose even if God did not choose that person to be pastor and the person was merely chosen by chance. God has not told us to use the lot every time we want direction from Him. God has not told us that He definitely will give direction if we use the lot or flip a coin, even if we pray a lot first and believe Him to give direction through it. Believing in the lot or not believing in the lot does not make any difference if God is not giving direction through the lot.


    • I agree that we as Anabaptists are hesitant to believe someone who says they have heard from God. We have not been taught much about hearing God speak nor about discerning if God has spoken to someone else. There is a fear of any teaching about the Holy Spirit because we have seen it done wrongly. But we need to learn anyway because He is part of the Trinity. Until this changes, the lot may be our only option. However, that may need to be a topic for a later post.

      I believe that God can work through the lot and does. But I don’t think it is the only way or necessarily the best way.

      Your story of Bill Gothard’s way of discerning the will of God made me think of King Saul in going to the woman at Endor (1Sam. 28) When we don’t hear from God but are determined to force things, you may get a correct answer even, but it doesn’t mean you have God’s approval.

      Sometimes God gives what we want even if it is not His perfect will. (Think of Israel demanding a king) But God is still Sovereign and what He allows, He has a purpose for.

      “God has not told us to use the lot every time we want direction from Him.” But neither are we told that we shouldn’t. I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, but I wanted to point out that the opposite is true as well.

      “God has not told us that He definitely will give direction if we use the lot or flip a coin, even if we pray a lot first and believe Him to give direction through it.”
      But what do you do with Proverbs 16:33 then? “The lot is cast into the lap but its every decision is from the Lord”

      I am not trying to defend the use of the lot for ordaining leaders, but I don’t think we can disregard its entire use either. I just see some problems arising when we view it as being the only way to select leaders when that is not the only mode used in the NT. And I think that many that use the lot don’t actually believe God works through it. They may claim to, but their actions deny it.


      • I agree with you that God has not forbidden us to use the lot and there may be times that God directs us to use the lot. Nor do I believe that the only use of the lot is by those who can’t hear God speak in another way.

        One positive experience with the lot was when my father was ordained bishop. God directed him which book to pick up. I don’t recall if he was the first person or the last to pick a book, but he got the book that God had directed him to get. He was chosen. I believe that situation is an illustration of Proverbs 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap but its every decision is from the Lord”

        A number of years later, when Lancaster Conference voted on women in church leadership, he was one of only two bishops who voted against it.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m curious, I was in the lot four times and not chosen. To me it was not a negative experience. What, for example, were the painful experiences some had ?


    • Not every church handles the lot in the same way. And not every person’s experience is negative.

      Some churches handle it rightly, but some do not. I would like to point to some of those things/ways that are done correctly and admonish those things that are not done rightly in some cases.

      I’ll address some of those painful aspects of it in a more detailed later post. Maybe I’ll share one that I’ve heard actually more than once is when a brother was the one the lot fell on, he was accused of having seen the paper sticking out by some who did not want him in there.

      In most instances, the negative things come from churches who use the lot, but do not actually believe it is the Lord choosing through it.


  4. I am, once again, thankful that you have chosen to write another blog. Hopefully you don’t mind but I have used quotes and shared links to your posts. I wonder if you would be willing to share your current affiliation. I had a gentleman question whether or not you are still a “conservative Mennonite”. I haven’t read anything that would lead me to believe you are attacking the Mennonite’s. To me you are asking the questions that need to be asked and I thank you for that.
    As for the current topic, I once again agree. I have challenged the use of the lot several times in the last 5-10 years. In a neighboring church they ordained 2 men (at different times) that felt no call to church leadership. One split the church within a few years and the other has since moved away. In our own church, the last 2 ordinations were during times of conflict. I discussed with the lead pastor if this is really the best time to have an ordination with the people being divided. Both times I was assured it was. I asked if they would consider an extra book so God could choose neither if we were headed in the wrong direction. I was told that would be “tempting God” and there would be no such consideration! The man ordained 1st did a considerable amount of damage before he finally left. They actually withdrew the use of the lot in the first ordination because of the percentage of votes. I am not opposed to the lot but I think of we are leaving the choice up to God we ought to give him a choice to say neither or not now! Again, thanks for sharing!


    • Hi Lee,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you have found the blog to be of use. Yes I am still a “conservative Mennonite”. I hesitate to put any affiliation on the blog, simply because I do not want any particular church or affiliation singled out. I direct this blog at all Anabaptists and I try to address issues that are shared by most, if not all, of us.

      Thank you for sharing what you have observed. I would agree with your suggestion of having an extra book. I think one reason people don’t like that idea is that we want to stay in control of the lot. We are not willing to “hand the reins” completely to Him.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I know of an instance where one that was in the lot , had people speak up in not believing him to be spiritually qualified and the ministry team went ahead anyway and that one was chosen only to have him trying to cover up his wife’s sin and eventually leaving. What a sad time for that church. Why did God allow such a thing? Maybe because the counsel of the church was not considered any type of leading of the Spirit? The mans wife has since repented but he seems to still be bitter.


    • Hi Ray,

      Thanks for reading and sharing. Yes, sin does bring pain. And not knowing all the circumstances, I hesitate to say too much. But it did bring some thoughts to me regarding the sovereignty of God.

      There were times in Scripture when God put men into positions of authority and yet they made some very wrong choices. When David sinned, do we immediately question whether Samuel heard right in anointing him? David’s sin did not mean it wasn’t God’s will for him to be king. His response to being confronted about his sin could likely have been why his kingdom was not taken away.

      Saul was another man that God chose, and yet he made wrong choices. His sin and lack of repentance didn’t mean he was the wrong man, but he could no longer be the king. Was he not meant to be the one in leadership? Or did God put him in there for some other purpose? We don’t always understand why God allows what He does, but we must believe He has a purpose in everything He allows or ordains.

      That said, God’s perfect will was not for Israel to have a king. When they insisted, He gave them a king. Saul was who God chose, even though it was not His perfect will/desire for them to have a king at all.


      • I really appreciate your sharing. I won’t say more because I’m hoping all is under the blood and don’t want dredge it up. I just remember the disbelief some us had when His name was announced. I shared with the ministry but they assured me that having talked with him that changes would be made. They have since said that was a mistake and would look for fruits of repentance before putting someone in the lot. A hard lesson to be sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. There are, admittedly, many issues with the lot. However, any method of decision making is open to abuse. Ungodly men have made decisions claiming to be guided by the Spirit of God, when in fact they were acting in their own self interest. Arguments about the misuse of the lot are not good arguments against it.

    I completely agree that the lot is not flawless, nor is it the ONLY way. However, I wholeheartedly support the use of the lot in the current climate of conservative Anabaptism. It stands as a bulwark against those who would seize a position of church leadership to accrue power to themselves. You have to go through the lot to get there. Even assuming that God turns His back and leaves it all to chance, there’s only 1 chance in 3 or 4 that a given candidate will take the position. I have seen multiple occurrences in which men who desperately craved the bishopric so that they could exert authority over others were kept back from their aim by the lot.

    Ideally, conservative Anabaptists should see the current strong hierarchical power structure as unscriptural and ripe for abuse and make the necessary changes. But until they do, the lot stands them in good stead by screening out at least some of the abusers.


    • Hello David,
      Thanks for your weighing in. I agree that misuse of the lot is not a good argument against it. But I do think some change in our handling of the lot needs to happen. My dislike of it is in the fact that quite a number of Anabaptists view it as the ONLY true way to be ordained. Yet many don’t act like they really believe God’s hand is truly in it and they must “help” Him.

      I’m not convinced that it is the best way, but it is certainly one of several biblical ways. It was used before the Holy Spirit came, and I believe it is almost like an “extra step”. And as you said, Anabaptists have a “strong hierarchical power structure that is ripe for abuse”. The lot may be needful until there is change made. However, even the lot is not above misuse. I have seen it being misused by bishops who throw out whatever names they decide are not who they want in there. Every system has the potential of being misused when power-hungry men that are not “full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” are left unchecked.


      • Well, looks like we’re on the same page then. I completely agree with everything you said.

        I’ve noticed that God seems to work with people according to their structure. For example, I have Holiness friends who felt called to preach from their early teens. That kind of experience is unheard of in our setting. I know there are different ways it could be interpreted, but I see it as God dealing with variances in culture.

        No way is the only way. And it’s hard to know which way is the BEST way. But you’re right. Something needs to change. Great post!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I read with interest your blog post on using the lot. I question whether the assembly of God in its broken up and weak state even has the authority to choose spiritual leaders for itself. In fact, elders were never chosen by the assembly, but rather by an apostle or those delegated to do so by an apostle. Acts 6 was not for the appointment of elders, but for deacons, and Acts 1 was before the church was born.

    I Timothy 5:17 and I Thessalonians 5:12 seem to indicate that there was not a stated or limited number of those who were elders, or who were leaders among them, or who labored in the word and doctrine. When groups of Christians limit or constrain the gifts of the Holy Spirit through an ordination process for a stated ministry, the Holy Spirit’s work in the assembly is greatly hindered. Ephesians 4:11; I Thessalonians 5:19.


    • Hi John,
      Good thoughts. You mention that the lot was used before the church was born. Interesting. I have long viewed the lot as being used before there was direction from the Holy Ghost, and after that the Holy Ghost gave direction.

      You say you question whether the assembly of God in its broken up and weak state has the authority to choose spiritual leaders. In Acts 6 when the church selected seven men, their church was not perfect either (one reason they needed deacons). In chapter five, there is even a story of a couple who attempted to deceive and lie to the church to try to lift themselves up. Through history, the church has always been broken and weak, yet God has not taken away church authority.

      That said, I do agree that it would seem that elders were appointed by other leaders or apostles. That is mentioned more than once in the New Testament.

      Scripture does not spell out a “how to appoint” leaders directive, but briefly mentions a few occurrences of it. Perhaps the method is not as important as being led by the Holy Spirit. Can God work through a lot? I believe He can and has. But is it God’s preferred way to elect leaders? I don’t believe so.

      Most Anabaptists today do not know how to hear God’s voice nor do they have much teaching about the Holy Ghost’s leading. Our focus is on God the Father and Jesus the Son, but we have almost a fear of any teaching on the Holy Ghost. Anyone who attempts to teach anything regarding the Holy Ghost is viewed with suspicion. Until this changes, we may only be able to ordain leaders the way they did before the Holy Ghost came.

      God has never condemned the use of the lot, which is why I believe He can still work in it even if it is not really a necessary step when you are led by the Holy Spirit. However, our attempts at trying to stay in control of the lot seems to almost negate the authenticity of it being the perfect will of God. He may just give us what we want instead of what is His best.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Another thoughtful post. Let me start off by saying, I have no problem with the lot and have been there. Also, I don’t believe it is the only way to ordain leadership, and I completely respect ministers from other denominations and other Anabaptist churches who have gained their leadership posts through other means. However, I’ve observed a trend among Mennonites where self-appointed lay leaders, hungry for recognition, start ministries and go on a preaching circuit anyway. Although these lay leaders have never been chosen for the lot. The churches where these men take the pulpit as invited guests, allow it. It seems that there is oppositional thinking where we all at once endorse the lot on paper, but live out another truth. Yet another opportunity for lines to be drawn? Perhaps in time the lot will disappear for most (but not all) conservative churches, and we will no longer be able to deny that there is more to ordainment than drawing straws


    • Hi Monica,
      Thank you for your patience on my reply. You mention “self-appointed lay leaders”. Are you referring to traveling evangelists or missionaries or something entirely different? I wasn’t exactly sure what you were speaking of, but I’m guessing you probably have a particular person or persons in mind. Sometimes a church will license men as they do mission work and they don’t use a lot for that. These men will speak in churches sometimes. Is that what you are referring to or did you have something completely different in mind?

      I have observed some of these type of situations. When a man feels called, the ministry recognizes that calling and brings it before the church. The church and the ministry brings it before the Lord to either affirm the calling and he is sent out, or if the Holy Spirit brings caution, other steps are taken. (And I realize not all churches do it this way) But then I wonder why we don’t just do the same for ordaining leaders?


      • No, I didn’t mean missionaries. I can think of several instances where someone who has never been in the lot but may desire to lead has no outlet so they start a legitimate ministry of some kind. The ministry travels to any church that will hear them, and they ultimately become a traveling preacher with loosening ties to their old home congregation. Some churches won’t allow them to take the pulpit because they are not ordained while others freely let them conduct lengthy sermons, revivals, etc. I think there is a need to recognize the somewhat minor traveling evangelist phenomena and either give these men a place to preach in a stable church setting for accountability purposes, or publicly recognize that the lot is not as sacred as we make it out to be on paper. I hope that clarifies what the thought I was initially trying to convey.
        To sum it up, I think the process of choosing leadership across the Mennonite spectrum has the potential to start looking like the wild west. At the very least, the lot brings the valuable attributes of discernment, congregational input, and prayer to the selection process.


      • I realize this reply is “long after”, but I came across some things as I was reading the other day that made me think of this discussion. I’ll try to summarize my thoughts briefly.

        In Acts 18:24-28, we read the story of Apollos. After Aquila and Priscilla “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly”, he went on to preach in Achaia. There is no evidence of him ever being ordained, nor even having the apostles laying hands on him. And yet, in verse 27, we read that the brethren wrote and encouraged the disciples to receive his service.

        Would this be an example of what you described? Sometimes God does work in ways that are a bit unconventional. When we begin thinking that the order and structure of things must be only the way we think they ought to be done, sometimes we forget that God does not limit Himself to only our methods.

        Another example of this would be in Numbers 11. When Moses needed help, God put some of His Spirit on seventy men that were to help bear the burden for Moses. When two of those seventy men (Eldad and Medad) did not do as the rest of the seventy did, Joshua asked Moses tell them to stop. But Moses refused, knowing the Spirit of God was on them and that was why they did what they did.

        Perhaps the best response to these situations would be to see whether they are full of the Holy Ghost and what kind of fruit is in their life. Are people responding to their teaching and being convinced of Biblical truth? Are they furthering the Kingdom or causing people to turn away from Biblical truth?


  9. At my church elders get chosen first by the most votes of the members. After that there is a voting at church to assure the support of (hopefully) the whole congregation. Then a new elder gets approved by the leaders of the church(elders and preachers meeting). Deacons get chosen by the local elders. Preachers get chosen by the leadership commite.
    Of corse there is ideally a lot of prayer involved.
    However with this method it has become possible to ‘steer’ the direction of the church.
    In our case there might be a very commited man but he will not get enough votes because he is too conservative, whereas the man that gets the votes is maybe not as commited and sincere but since he is progressive he is popular.
    I’m sure there are all kinds of biblical ways to choose leaders and since we all are prone to error ,once in a while ,the wrong person will be chosen.
    In our church we had a deacon that seemed to be very godly until it came out that he was living a double life. It was all very tragic especially for the wife and the children. But also for us,who trusted in his leadership.
    So even tough wisdom was sought still the wrong Person got chosen.
    To me sincere prayer, maybe even fasting before putting in a vote is absolutely essential. If everyone of the congregation takes this seriously there will be a way to life with the out come of an election and a Minimum of tragedy.


    • Hi Ruth,
      Thank you for sharing how your church puts new leaders in. I agree, praying and fasting is an essential part of the process. We need to also be listening and be obedient to what we hear.

      You also mention a time when a leader was living a double life. That is always hard for all involved. However, it may not be that the “wrong person was chosen”. God has a purpose in all He allows– even when it doesn’t make sense. Maybe it was to do a work in this man’s life and bring things hidden into the light.

      David and Saul also come to mind. Both men sinned greatly while in leadership. But yet God had chosen them both. Regardless of the method, imperfect men are put into leadership positions and at times fail. We must trust that God has a reason for all that He in His sovereignty allows.


      • This story sadly ended tragically with a broken family and a man lost in following his desires. But i guess we all learned that sometimes the swift to speak can deceive. Thinking back there was quiet doubt with many of us. May we learn to really listen when this happens.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. >>I don’t believe it is wrong to use the practice of the lot to ordain a minister.

    If it could be demonstrated that the apostles’ use of the lot in Acts 1 was a UNIQUE and NON-REPEATABLE situation, then it WOULD be wrong to practice the lot in ordaining ministers today.

    If there was a UNIQUE and SPECIAL circumstance in choosing Judas’ replacement, which restored the number of original apostles to Twelve, then it would indeed be WRONG to practice the lot in ordaining ministers today.

    What might that SPECIAL and NON-REPEATABLE context be regarding the TWELVE, which limited the use of the lot in the ordination of leaders to that *_SINGLE_* circumstance in the NT?
    Hint: TWELVE tribes of Israel, TWELVE apostles, Jesus’ reconstitution of Israel, Rev 21:9-14


    • Hello Kevin,
      I agree that it was a unique and special circumstance in choosing Judas’s replacement, but I don’t think that would necessarily make it WRONG to use the lot. The lot was used for other things throughout Scripture as well, and to say it is wrong to use it would mean we would have to call something a sin that God never opposed nor spoke negatively of. However, it is not mentioned as being the method used elsewhere in the NT to ordain leaders. So I would conclude that it is not necessarily wrong, but perhaps it is not the BEST way, nor was it even a common way.

      It would also seem that it was a method used before the Holy Ghost came, and if we are led by the Holy Ghost, why would we need the lot?


  11. >> to say it is wrong to use [the lot] would mean we would have to call
    >>something a sin that God never opposed nor spoke negatively of.

    Okay, my friend, I have a question for you.

    Now, I like you, so let me be frank and tell you upfront that I’m setting you up with this question 🙂

    Here it is:

    Does the office of Apostle continue in the churches to our own time? Is it okay for men to be ordained to the office of Apostle in the present day? I’m making a distinction here between the office of the Apostle and the general use of the term “apostle,” which as you know, simply means “sent one.” So my question is with regard to the Office. Does the office of the Apostle continue in the churches to our own day?


    • I don’t believe that there is an ‘office of Apostle” that men need to be ordained to today. The office of Apostle was held by a limited number of men chosen by Jesus. This included the 12 disciples and Paul (Mark3:13-19; Rom. 1:1). The requirements of being an apostle were that they needed to be an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry and His Resurrection (Acts 1:21-22; 1Cor. 9:1)

      However, I do believe there is a spiritual gift of apostle. Ephesians 4:11-12 and 1Cor. 28-31 both speak of this. This is different than the office of Apostle but I do believe that some men today have been called and gifted in this area.


      • Simon says:

        >>I don’t believe that there is an ‘office of Apostle” that men need
        >>to be ordained to today.

        Very good. We are agreed.

        >>The office of Apostle was held by a limited number of men chosen by Jesus.

        Yes! Excellent.Remember later what you rightly state above. The original Apostles were a LIMITED, UNIQUE, NON-REPEATABLE, EXCLUSIVE, NEVER-TO-APPEAR-AGAIN group of men, who were DIRECTLY chosen by God, by Jesus.

        >>This included the 12 disciples and Paul (Mark3:13-19; Rom. 1:1).

        Exactly! Each of these were DIRECTLY commissioned by Jesus Himself. They were CHOSEN and PICKED by God alone, WITHOUT any intermediaries. God incarnate picked them HIMSELF.

        >>The requirements of being an apostle were that they needed to be an
        >>eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry and His Resurrection (Acts 1:21-22; 1Cor. 9:1)

        Yes. Precisely.

        “…Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?” 1 Cor 9:1

        Another requirement of being an Apostle was miracle working power…

        “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you in all patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.” 2 Cor 12:12

        And finally let us add this:

        “…you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the FOUNDATION (emphasis mine) of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.” Eph 2:19-20

        This UNIQUE, EXCLUSIVE and NON-REPEATABLE group of Apostles were/are the foundation of the church. A foundation is laid once. We, in our time, do not continue to lay the foundation. The Apostles did that. Since the death of the Apostles the church has built upon the foundation which they established.

        Now, let us return to the original issue, the original question. Is it WRONG to employ the lot in choosing or electing church leaders today?

        There is only ONE example, in the whole of the NT, of choosing a church leader by lot. ONE example. Only ONE. And it involves the selection of one of these UNIQUE Apostles whom we have been discussing, these Apostles who were in EVERY case chosen DIRECTLY by God without intermediaries.

        So the time came to replace Judas. What did the Eleven do? They looked around at all the disciples and said the following, in effect, “Who among these disciples has been with us from the beginning, from the baptism of John to the ascension of our Lord? Someone fitting that bill must take Judas’ place.” And two men were put forward.

        Then the Eleven, probably Peter, said something like this, “O Lord, it is not our place to choose between these men. We cannot do it. This choice must come DIRECTLY from YOU. All of us, the other Apostles, were chosen and called DIRECTLY from You. This decision must be completely YOURS. It is not our place to choose an Apostle. We will take ourselves COMPLETELY out of this decision and we will cast the lot; and by the lot we will have YOUR choice, DIRECTLY and apart from all human mediation, of the Apostle to replace Judas. The choice is completely and altogether YOURS, O Lord.”

        Now, the lot was never used again in the NT to elect and ordain a church leader. Never. All church leaders after this were appointed and ordained through HUMAN mediation, through the Apostles themselves, their associates in ministry or through the churches that they planted.

        Why did the church cease with and terminate the lot? Because the UNIQUE and EXCLUSIVE office of Apostle ceased its purpose in the church and was terminated. Why was the lot set aside? Because the office of the Apostle was set aside. Why do we NOT use the lot anymore? Because there is no possibility that an Apostle should arise anymore. The two, you see, were inextricably linked and bound…the use of the lot and Apostleship. No more Apostleship? Then no need of the lot. All church leaders subsequent to the Apostles could be chosen and ordained through prayerful HUMAN mediation.

        To conclude then:

        The lot should not be used today in the selection and ordination of church leaders. It is not God’s will that the lot be used today. It is WRONG to use the lot. And you will make grave errors and wreak havoc upon congregations by using the lot. There are no more Apostles… there is no possibility that a new Apostle will arise… and therefore the lot should NEVER be used.


      • You bring up some good thoughts and I agree with your assessment of the role of the Apostles. But I still don’t agree with the conclusion you come to about the lot. I agree that the use of the lot in the ordaining of an apostle was most likely a unique, one time thing. But I don’t think you can conclude that because it was only used here that is a sin to use it elsewhere.

        Why do you think they used the lot in this instance? Were they commanded to, or was it because it was a common thing in their culture to use a lot to find out what God’s will was? After the Holy Spirit came, they no longer needed the lot to hear God. To me this makes more sense than trying to say it is a sin to use the lot.

        Some questions for you:

        Can God lead through the Lot?

        Do you think it is wrong to use the Lot for other things besides ordaining leaders?

        If it is wrong to use a lot, can you show me where in Scripture that God condemns it?

        If I am against the way that many Anabaptists say certain things are wrong to do that God does not (facial hair, what the covering must look like, the use of musical instruments, etc), then it is just as wrong to say that the lot is wrong when God never condemns it. You can logically draw a conclusion that the lot is not the way most leaders were ordained in the New Testament, or say it is not necessary to use the lot, but to say it is a sin to use it, you are adding to Scripture and calling something sin that God has not.

        Circumcision is an Old Covenant practice that no longer means anything today. Yet, many Christians today still circumcise their sons. Using your logic, we could say it was a sign of a unique, exclusive, non-repeatable covenant that we are not under today, so therefore it is wrong to circumcise. But God never condemns circumcision. We are just not required to do it anymore and the practice of it does not mean what it did before.

        God does not give us a concise outline with clear instructions on how to ordain leaders. He tells us what kind of men they must be and what their lives should look like, but He does not tell exactly how the process should look like for choosing them. We can only look at examples and do as the Holy Spirit leads.

        Contrary to many Anabaptist beliefs, we are not commanded to use the lot; but neither are we told it is wrong to use it either.


  12. >> to say it is wrong to use [the lot] would mean we would have to call
    >>something a sin that God never opposed nor spoke negatively of.

    1 Corinthians 14:39 “So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.”

    God didn’t “oppose” prophecy either. God didn’t forbid speaking in tongues. But neither one of them belongs in the church today. They were fitted to a particular time in redemptive history, just as the lot was fitted to a particular occasion in Acts 1. None of these things should be practiced in the church today.

    Your standard of assessment is flawed, my friend.


    • So who gets to decide what parts of 1 Corinthians 14 apply to today and which parts don’t “belong to the church today”? I believe if God didn’t forbid speaking in tongues or prophesying than we shouldn’t either. I don’t find any Scripture saying that certain gifts were only for the church at Corinth, but not for the church today.

      1Cor.1:2 “Unto the church of God, which is at Corinth; to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” (emphasis mine)

      My standard of assessment is to call only sin what God calls sin.


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