Should We Just Cast Lots?

Various churches are governed differently. What is the correct way? After reading the New Testament, should we just cast lots and get it over with?

In a word, no.

While we find an instance of casting lots in the New Testament, all of the evidence points to this instance (Acts 1:26) as the last such event of the New Testament church. This is very important because we do (and should) look to the New Testament as our guide to belief, behavior, and governance or polity. Though the early church cast lots to determine the disciple to replace Judas Iscariot, it wasn’t as simple as that.

Simon Peter summoned the small group of disciples together to determine a replacement for Judas.

They had definite qualifications. First, they wanted a man who had been with them throughout the ministry of Jesus, beginning with the baptism of John the Baptist through the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Second, they wanted someone who could give eyewitness testimony to the empty tomb and the risen Lord.

They nominated two men who presumably met all their qualifications; a true and faithful believer, a witness to the ministry of Jesus, and a witness to the risen Lord.

They prayed and then Matthias was selected. While it seems haphazard, it wasn’t at all. Notice what they did.

They established qualifications, selected two men who met those qualifications, and prayed fervently and specifically. Only then did they cast lots. This process is followed by many churches as they make decisions about leadership.

Why they quit casting lots is very instructive. Ten days after the ascension, the Holy Spirit came upon the church. From this point forward the normative experience of receiving the Holy Spirit would be associated closely with salvation, specifically with repentance, faith, and baptism.

When they had the Holy Spirit to guide them, they did not need to cast lots (a prominent Old Testament practice). They had something much better.

So do we. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives shows why it is blasphemous to consult a medium or a horoscope to receive guidance.

Those who know Christ have the abiding Spirit of Jesus to guide through the difficulties of life.


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