1 Timothy 6:5and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Barnabas and Saul Sent Off
1In the church at Antioch there were prophets(prophetes) and teachers(didaskalos) (What? No pastors? Did the Holy Spirit make a mistake here?): Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
Where are the pastors here? hmm-they are not there! Where are the pastors mentioned when Paul was describing what we should see in the church?
1 Corinthians 12
27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
Where are the pastors here? hmm-they are not there….
The book of Timothy talks about those who should be over us in the Lord, and its interesting to note the structure of the beginning of the book of Timothy. It starts by warning us about false teachers, then it talks about worship, overseers and deacons (no pastors…) then it talks about spiritual deception. It’s no accident that the text about overseers and deacons is sandwiched by false teachers and spiritual deception in the book of Timothy. I see Paul giving instructions about “overseers and deacons”, but no pastors…….hmm.
Have todays “pastors” taken on their mantle based on God’s word, or man’s tradition?
Although I see no mention of pastors in the book of Timothy, I do see this:
3If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain
Jesus said that Christian leadership was upside down from worldly leadership, (leader is the servant) so why is it that every “church” I’ve seen looks organizationally EXACT like every other worldly institution made by man? Today’s pastors look talk and act an awful lot like the priests of the Babylon, the roman catholic church and like executives in the corporate world, but certainly not like Jesus. In fact, it’s interesting to inquire, where did Protestantism get its ideas of how and what “the church” acted like and looked like. (hint: all protestantism is the daughter of the roman church, Protestantism “came out of/was birthed by catholicism)
if we see no mention of 'pastors' anywhere in the bible except that one single reference in Ephesians, then why are all the 'churches' in the world around us full of ‘pastors' ?
Ephesians 4:11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
That’s it, that’s all it says.
If you tell me that another way to describe a pastor based on the Greek or Hebrew is shepherd or undershepherd then I will say this. Let’s picture a literal flock of sheep. We know there is only one shepherd of the flock, and the flock. There is one flock and one shepherd that’s it. Where would the “undersheperd” fit in? Perhaps they fit in this way: how about the dogs that the shepherds train to keep the sheep from straying away. The sheep are not focused on the dog unless they are wandering away then the dogs run over and guide them back in. Perhaps my reasoning isn’t correct, but even so, we know for a fact that the flock does not follow a pastor, they follow the shepherd period, end of story, that shepherd is Christ Jesus alone. The bible talks about overseers deacons and elders……….but what about pastors?
I’ve heard it said that ‘pastors’ are there to prepare the flock for works of service or good works. But who says so? What do the overseers and deacons and elders do according to the bible? (and please don’t quote what other men and their traditions have to say about this) The bible does’nt say that a ‘pastor’ does anything, so be careful when defining what a pastor does/is.
It seems that modern day churchianity has substituted ‘pastors’ for the place that elders deacons and overseers have in the church, but they have exceeded the boundaries of even this. Consider this:
1 Peter 5To Elders and Young Men 1To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (so who are supposed to also be shepherds of God’s flock? Elder are, not Pastors, right?) According to the bible, what is a pastor? It does’nt say..does it?
In most of the so called “churches" I have seen, the 'pastor' was almost like a rock star, inaccessible except to the 'special' few who had backstage passes to access more than 3 minutes of his time.
7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.' 8"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
I find it interesting that churchianity has taken the most enigmatic and least mentioned position in the church (pastor), mentioned one time in the bible and never mentioned when Paul or Timothy was describing what was in particular churches when they were alive, then taken it and blown it up into this perversion (the pastoral system)that we see being perpetrated today.
11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Every pastor I’ve ever met has been a “hired hand”, they are getting “paid”…. they have been “hired” by the so called “churches” dotting our landscape…hired hands to a tee……………..
My guess is that whatever a pastor is….it isn’t what is in the world right now, and ……they don’t get paid, do we “pay” family for being a family member? No. We feed and clothe our family but family members are not salaried. It’s just sick.
Mark 7 7They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." 9And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
Acts 20:25"Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32"Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
Here we see that Paul warned the church for 3 years day and night about the savage wolves that would come in and savage the flock as well as members of the very same group he was talking to who would rise up and distort the truth to draw away disciples to themselves................hmmmm sounds awfully familiar........... and what's this??? Paul worked for his own living and gave to the poor out of what he himself earned, not taking from the flock to do it so nothing would hinder the gospel message????? Where can we find this example today?
1 timothy 4:15Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
2 Timothy 41In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
1 JOHN 2:26I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him.
This Information on Disinformation is from the author of the cuttingedge website:
Disinformation Agent- I learned all about this type of agent when I served in U.S. Army Intelligence for nearly 4 years, working for 2 1/2 years at a Pentagon-level facility in Okinawa. This type of agent is placed in the field many years before he will be called to active service. During these preparatory years, this agent will be careful to not look like the enemy who sent him, nor portray any of those values. If his target is America, he will act the part of the normal American husband, father, and provider. He will be patriotic and attend the football. basketball, and baseball games in which his children are a part.
Once he has built up a reputation as a solid American citizen, he will be able to pass the most vigorous background check the FBI can conduct! This agent is carefully maneuvered into his target area over a period of years, passing through the most vigorous background check imaginable. Once in his targeted position, the Disinformation Agent will provide at least 90% good, solid information; a highly placed disinformation specialist will provide 98% good information.
He will provide wrong information only at the most critical moment -- in the midst of a battle when the outcome is in doubt. The wrong information he provides is designed to turn the course of the battle raging at that particular time. Some agents have worked for over 20 years just to get into position where they could carry out 20 minutes of disinformation.
If he is ever discovered, many people will refuse to believe that he is a turncoat, for they will point to the many years of his service, during which time he faithfully provided absolutely right information. Such doubters will never understand that this is THE definition of a Disinformation Agent.
This is how satan’s ministers have taken control of this entire Babylonian religious system in the world today.
Churchianity and the pastoral system:
The simple answer for why ‘churchianity’ and the this pastoral system we see is wrong is this: idolatry.
Men have setup a pastoral system that can in no way be justified by scripture. They have also setup an institutional system of religion that works hand in hand with the unscriptural pastoral system. These two things put together (the religious system plus the pastoral system) form an entity that is idolatrous. People who are a part of this system, may even love Jesus, but they also idolize their buildings, their denomination, their pastor, in short, they idolize their religion. This is a problem since the Lord tells us not to have any idols before him. For people who are part of this idol system of religion, Jesus is not enough. They need the Bible AND the purpose driven life. They want Jesus AND a religious system with buildings and men that they can see hear and touch to follow. Jesus alone is just not enough for them. It matters little that the people who make up the idol religious system don’t ‘intend’ to be idols, the fact is, they are. When you talk to a person and they tell you all about how wonderful their ‘pastor’ is and how great their denomination is, and how pretty their ‘church’ is etc etc, but they don’t talk a whole lot about Jesus, should’nt that make you wonder?……When Jesus went into the temple and overturned the money changers tables and said “my house is to be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of robbers” it was of course a very profound statement. What is the house of God?……we are. So we are to be houses of prayer. Would anyone deny that the house of God is not some building, but we are the temples of the holy spirit? When pastors and preachers tell a person that if they don’t ‘attend’ the building on Sundays and Wednesdays and listen to a ‘pastor’ speak every week that they won’t go to heaven, isn’t that idolatry? Let’s reason together here: Jesus said that belief in Him was the only way to get to heaven. Pastors of the idol religious system tell people that (in short) “ if you aren’t a part of our system you aren’t going to heaven” Wait a minute, I though Jesus was all I needed to get into heaven, but you are telling me I need this religious ‘package’ of yours to get into heaven, so are you saying that your system=Jesus for the purposes of me getting into heaven? Friend, if this isn’t idolatry I don’t know what is. There are those who try to justify the idolatrous religious system by saying, but how can you fellowship? How can you learn about God? how can you worship?
Who said they would build the church? (Jesus said he’d do it)
Can I fellowship with other believers without some building on the corner? (Yes)
Who said they would teach us? Jesus/Holy Spirit/Father did
Can I worship Jesus without a choir? Ummm, you can answer this one.
How many other believers does it take to fellowship? (…..2)
Do I need the current idolatrous religious system to love Jesus and be in good standing with Him? No
Here’s some more great reading from a different source, so now you’ve heard it from someone else too, cheers:
Is The One Pastor System Scriptural?
by Mark Frees
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- I shall add some personal observations along the way in this font color and style. ]
In the summer of 1990, while pastoring a denominational church in rural Mississippi, 1 felt led to teach a Bible study series on the New Testament pattern for the church and its leadership. We were not very far into this study before I began to seriously question the scripturalness of many of our church practices and traditions. Most troublesome was the question of whether or not my own position as the Pastor of a local church was a scriptural one.
I had always assumed that the one-Pastor system, being the pattern followed in the overwhelming majority of churches today, was founded upon Scripture. But as I began to earnestly study the Scriptures on the issue of church leadership, one disturbing question kept intruding itself- a question I present here for the sober consideration of the reader. Where in Scripture is there warrant for one man to be the spiritual leader and authority over the local church?
Never mind that this is the pattern unquestioningly followed throughout Christendom today. Where is it in Scripture? As I searched the length and breadth of the New Testament, it became obvious to me that such a pattern was nowhere to be found. Rather, I found that the primary role in shepherding the New Testament churches was exercised, not by a solitary Pastor, but by a plurality of men, described as "elders" or overseersAnd when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23)
From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.... He said unto them...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. (Acts 20:17-28)Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: (Phil. 1:1)
For this cause left I 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: (Titus 1:5)
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (James 5:14)
The quotation above from Acts 20 makes it clear that the "elders" and "overseers" are the same persons, and that it is they who are given responsibility to shepherd, or pastor the church of God. ("Shepherd" is the literal meaning of the word "pastor.") So while others besides elders may exercise a pastoral gift- Bible teachers, for instance, there is no hint in Scripture of anyone claiming to be "the Pastor" of a local church and assuming a position of oversight apart from and superior to the work of the elders. We read nothing of a "Senior Pastor," or "Presiding Elder." Such titles, in fact come perilously close to blasphemy, since Christ Himself is spoken of as "the Chief Shepherd" (1 Peter 5:4).
The apostle Peter confirms that the terms "elders" and "overseers" refer to the same persons, and that their work is that of pastoring the flock:The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; (1 Peter 5:1-2)
So when we read in Ephesians 4:11, that God has given "some as pastors" (literally, "shepherds"), can we not assume that this refers primarily to these elders, or overseers, and not to a one-man office about which the rest of the New Testament is completely silent? Nor is all this mere wrangling over terminology.
The point to be fixed clearly in the mind from the above scriptures is that, in the New Testament, churches were never shepherded by one man, whatever his title or designation, but by a plurality of men. Further, the clear impression given by these scriptures is that elders were generally raised up by God from within the local church, not hired and imported from outside- and certainly not from the ranks of a professional "clergy".
This gives rise to another question.
Where in Scripture is there any such thing as a servant of the Lord contracting to receive a stated salary from a church? The New Testament clearly sets forth the principle that those who preach the gospel are entitled to "live from the gospel" (Matt. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 9:14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18), but there is never any indication that this involves a stated salary, but rather, free will gifts:
Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.(Gal. 6:6)
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. (Phil. 4:15-16)Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.(Titus 3:13-14)
The only case in Scripture of a "minister" receiving a fixed salary occurs in Judges 17- a situation filled with compromise and idolatry!
But did not Jesus say, "The laborer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7)? True, but the briefest glance at the immediate context, where these laborers are instructed to carry neither purse nor scrip, and to "eat and drink such things as are set before you", shows that a fixed salary was the last thing our Lord had in view. Yes, the Lord's laborer is worthy of his hire, but who is it that "hires" him? In whose employ is he-- the church's or the Lord's? Surely the Lord's, but the system of a salaried pastorate implies otherwise. I cannot help but believe that the present-day "Pastor search" process, complete with resumes, salary negotiations, trial sermons, and the like, is a grievous offence to the Spirit of God. Again our urgent question must be: where is all this in Scripture?
Where also is the notion that the public ministry of the Word is to be confined to one man in a local church, and that it is contingent upon him being "ordained" by some human authority? On the contrary, we read
Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. (1 Cor 14:29-31)
Regardless of one's view concerning the nature of the gift of prophecy and its validity for today, it is abundantly clear that the practice of one man monopolizing the public ministry of the Word was utterly foreign to the New Testament churches.
So when confronted with the plain teaching of Scripture, I could not escape the conclusion that the oversight of the local church is to be exercised by mature brethren raised up by the Holy Spirit from within the church, and that public ministry of the Word is open to any brother who has been divinely gifted for it.
In contrast, most churches today entrust the spiritual leadership of the congregation, and the vast majority of the public ministry, to a solitary Pastor, who is chosen from among the professional "clergy," imported from outside the church and promised a fixed salary for his services. Can the reader, with his New Testament open before him, deny that this is a drastic departure from the scriptural pattern? Indeed it is, and it has had predictably severe consequences on the spiritual life of churches. The following are only some of the problems that are created or aggravated by this unscriptural one-Pastor system
The One-Pastor System of church life:
(1) Perpetuates the deplorable distinction between "clergy" and "laity." No more pernicious device of the devil has ever been deployed than this utterly unscriptural distinction. Pastors today grieve about being unable to involve the "laity." without ever considering that it is the very system of dividing Christians into two classes that is to blame.
The answer is not to "involve" the laity, but to abolish it! Away with the idea that Christian work is the province of a special few!
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- I must add here that our Lord hates this mongrel doctrine. Here is His comment on it:
Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Revelation 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Jesus Christ HATES Nicolaitanism. Is must then be very serious. What is this Satanic invention?
NicolaitanNico LaityAbove the Laity
Nicolaitanism is the self-exalting of men within the Lord's Church to take authority of common men. This is precisely what the old Mother Whore Catholic Church did. Luther and Calvin perpetuated it. And, while the Puritans and Anabaptists resisted it to a large degree, intellectualism and modernism have prevailed to bring this disease back into the Fundamental church movement. It is assumed to be normal, yet Christ still HATES it. Do you? Or are you perpetuating it? ]
(2) Causes believers to neglect their own responsibility for witnessing to the lost, to neglect encouraging the brethren, in-depth Bible study, visiting the sick, etc., out of a conscious or subconscious assumption that these are "the Pastor's Jobs." Often the only one visibly working for Christ in the community is the Pastor, whose witness is impaired by the fact that he is perceived as paid to do so.
And, how rare is serious Bible study outside of the Pastor's study! There is a widespread delusion that only the "ordained" Pastor is qualified to mine the riches of God's Word, and that only he is responsible for using the Word to encourage the brethren and warn the lost. As a result, men who have been believers in Christ for thirty or forty years, and "by this time ought to be teachers," are still being spoon-fed themselves. (Heb. 5:12)
In our churches today this is not the unfortunate exception. It is the norm. Of all the damage wreaked by the unscriptural system of handing over the ministry of the church to a single professional (or in larger churches, a staff of professionals), this debilitating effect on the men of the congregation is perhaps the most tragic.
(3) Leaves little or no room for the exercise of spiritual gifts, other than the Pastor's, in the gatherings of the church.
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- The modern tongues movement, with the chaos of "holy laughter" and other raucous behavior, is a demonstration of the "laity" of their lust to climb up into the spotlight. There would be far less interest in these vile manifestations if all the saints in the local church stood on level ground as God intended.]
(4) Leads to churches being built in the flesh, as programs, promotion, and the Pastor's personality must replace the spiritual gifts of the body.
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- This includes Evangelists who are star attractions and have alleged power to build churches and "get souls saved." It also includes "keynote speakers" at conferences who are famous and have men's persons in admiration. I have sat in groups of pastors when conferences were planned, and much deliberation went into figuring how much it would cost to get various famous Amos speakers to "draw" the best attendance. ]
(5) Produces widespread discouragement among Pastors, who are trying earnestly to fill an unscriptural role.
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- And the "laity" will not raise a hand to help the average pastor carry the load. If he fails, an election is called, and he is run off and condemned. The "laity" will actually talk of getting their money's worth out of a pastor. He is most often faulted for not visiting the homes of the heavy givers enough. Imagine how utterly silly this would be is a plurality of elders were the only leadership of the local church, AND if they were not hired and called from some far off seminary. ]
(6) Denies Pastors the fellowship in the ministry they so desperately need. Usually the difference in spiritual vision and ministry responsibility between the Pastor and the congregation is so wide that his only meaningful fellowship is with other Pastors, who are not fellow-laborers in the same field, but have their own fields to worry about.
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- Many pastors have no personal friends in their congregation. This is because they fall into the Jackboot mentality and come to see their congregation as dumb sheep who need regular floggings. If have heard Fundamental Baptist pastors talk this way many times at Pastor's conferences.
I also note the disgraceful way in which deacons and men in local churches fawn over pastors when these Nicolaitan pastors are gathered in large conferences. The ladies serving the dinner will fall all over themselves and chatter as they serve in self-effacing ways, while men of the local church are patently held in low places by the vocabulary used. Indeed, some men, like Jack Hyles and many Fundamental Baptist leaders, will go to great ends to exalt pastors above the "laity." ]
(7) Tends to negate the presidency of the Holy Spirit in the church. Though the Pastor may earnestly seek the mind of the Spirit, his perception is clouded by his own personality, desires, etc. How much better, when formulating plans or making a decision, for the elders as a group, along with other spiritual men, to come before the Lord in prayer until the Holy Spirit speaks and brings them to a consensus, as in Acts 13:1-3.
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- Virtually thousands of Fundamental Pastors do NOT trust the Holy Spirit to lead the other men around them in the local church. One pastor in Dayton, Ohio arrogantly told me his deacons were nothing but janitors and that he did not ever ask them their opinion. What blasphemy of the Holy Ghost! ]
(8) Since one man is given responsibility for the entire ministry of the church, and since no one man has all the gifts, Pastors are forced to spend much of their time doing ministry they are not supernaturally gifted to do, or else that ministry goes undone.
(9) Creates a situation where one person, the Pastor, can turn a doctrinally sound church into a heretical church overnight. Having multiple elders, while not providing absolute immunity from doctrinal error, is a powerful check against heretical teaching.
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- Over the history of many local churches, the church will take violent swings back and forth on various doctrines. It is the experience of many pastors to teach expository Bible messages, feed the flock of God, and see them mature in many doctrines. Then, after this pastor leaves, some hireling is "called" by blasphemous "Democracy," and the man trashes everything the former pastor taught in short order. The former pastor is broken hearted and feels he wasted his whole tenure in that church. This was my experience in a local church I pastored in California. That church quickly went into the ditch and is not thoroughly ecumenized. This might not have been the case if I had understood the lesson being taught here. ]
(10) Leads to a paralyzing shortage of national Christian workers in many mission areas, because of the assumption that these workers must be professionally trained and imported from outside the church. Where is the confidence that the Lord has already supplied the body with the leadership gifts needed?
(11) Puts undue pressure on the Pastor's wife and children, as they are forced to live in a "fishbowl" environment as "the preacher's" family.
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- This is why many pastors leave "the ministry" and go sell insurance. They grow weary of being examined in ways other saints are never examined. The "laity" feel justified in scrutinizing their pastor and his family because they were selected from afar and are expected to embody all the Christian virtues in abundance. The "money's worth" factor comes up again in this one. ]
These are but a sampling of the consequences that I believe can be laid squarely at the feet of unscriptural beliefs and practices concerning the ministry
Some Objections Answered
Objection 1: The proper role of a pastor is not to assume the entire ministry of the church, but to mobilize and equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. Therefore, most of the problems you have listed are results, not of the single-Pastor system itself, but of the abuse of that system
Reply: Since the single-Pastor system is universally beset with these problems, the burden of proof lies on its defenders to prove that the system itself is not at fault, particularly since it is a system with no warrant in Scripture. The concept of a church led by a Pastor-equipper who mobilizes the saints to do the work of the ministry sounds attractive, but the experience of thousands of frustrated Pastors testifies that it simply does not work. There is simply too deeply ingrained a perception in the minds of the congregation that Christian work is for a special few.
The clergy-laity gap is the great demobilizer of the saints. Anyone trying to abolish that gap is doomed to failure while clinging to a system where one man, professionally trained and credentialed, is viewed as "the Minister." Incidentally, those who espouse the concept of the Pastor-equipper normally have a very limited notion of what the "work of the ministry" includes. For instance, even the Pastor who makes equipping the saints an emphasis of his ministry will normally call a fellow clergyman-- not someone from the congregation-- to fill the pulpit when he is away.
Objection 2: The approach you have suggested would produce incompetent church leadership at best, and doctrinal mayhem at worst.
Reply: This is a serious charge because it I implies that the Holy Spirit is incompetent in placing the proper leadership gifts within each church. Is it seminary or Bible college training that qualifies a man for leadership in the church, or is it the gifts of the Holy Spirit? We have often been guilty of giving lip service to the latter, while placing greater weight on the former.
Objection 3: The word "overseer" is singular in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:7 where the qualifications of the overseer are described. This suggests at least the possibility of "overseer" being a one-man work.
Reply: It is a most natural use of language to employ the singular when describing the qualifications of a position. For instance, I might say, "A United States Senator (or even, the United States Senator) must be a man of integrity. honor, etc." without in the least implying that there is only one United States Senator, or even one per state! To stress Paul's perfectly explicable use of the singular here, while ignoring the overwhelming evidence of the rest of the New Testament, would be a strange and twisted exegesis.
At any rate, a closer look at Titus 1:5-7 rules out the possibility that Paul was advocating a one-pastor system. How can the use of the singular "overseer" in verse 7 possibly imply that each local church is to have only one overseer, when two verses earlier Paul had introduced the subject by reminding Titus of his instructions to "appoint elders [plural] in every city"? To my mind, this is conclusive.
Objection 4: Were not the "Pastoral Epistles" addressed to single individuals?
Reply: This objection is based on the common misconception that Timothy and Titus were each "Pastors" of local churches. This is simply not true. To quote from the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary:
"Though these letters do furnish worthwhile directions for pastors, the addressees were not Pastors in the usual present-day sense of that term. Rather, they were Paul's special envoys sent by him on specific missions and entrusted with concrete assignments according to the need of the hour."
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- And, when their tasks were finished, they chose elders, and either moved on to do it again, or they returned to Paul to receive other assignments. ]
Objection 5: What about the leadership role of James at Jerusalem (Acts 12:17). Epaphras at Colossae (Col. 4:12). And Epaphroditus at Philippi (Phil. 2:25)?
Reply: This objection, which I have heard used in defense of the one-Pastor system is a patent example of reading the Word of God through the distorting lens of tradition. James, the Lord's brother, was an apostle (Gal. 1:19). not a Pastor. Epaphras was an evangelist. The "fellow bond-servant" of Paul who brought the gospel to the Colossians (Col. 1:7). (Strange that if he were "Pastor" of the church at Colossae, he is never seen as present there, but always with Paul elsewhere!. (Col. 4:12; Philem. 23) Epaphroditus is simply described as one of Paul's fellow-workers who was sent by the Philippian church as a minister to his needs. All this is evidence for the one-Pastor system?
Objection 6: Do not the "angels" of the churches in Revelation 2-3 refer to Pastors (e.g. "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write...," etc.), and is there not one per church?
Reply: No person reading the New Testament, apart from preconceived notions, would ever imagine that the "angels" of Revelation 2-3 refer to Pastors. Although the Greek word "angelos" may be translated "messenger," in every other occurrence of the word in Revelation, and it occurs 76 times!, it unquestionably refers to literal angels. If it does mean "messenger" in Revelation 2-3, it still could hardly be stretched to mean "pastor."
In every case where the New Testament uses the phrase messenger of..." (e.g. "messenger of Satan," "messengers of John," etc.), it always describes by whom the messenger is sent, never to whom. In other words, "the messenger of the church in Ephesus" would not likely mean a messenger sent TO the church, but a messenger sent BY the church, perhaps as part of a delegation to minister to the apostle in his exile on Patmos and to receive instructions from him.
Objection 7: Perhaps the many New Testament references to multiple elders are due to the fact that, while each church had only one elder or overseer, each city had several different churches. For instance, when Paul writes to "the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons" (Phil. 1: 1), there may have been a number of congregations in Philippi, each with their own overseer, or Pastor.
Reply: This reasoning may seem to answer certain passages, but it utterly falls apart in view of others, such as Acts 14:23 ("So when they had appointed elders in every church...), James 5:14 ("Let him call for the elders of the church"), etc.
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- I have heard this one, and it is the desperate claim of Nicolaitans who are in terror of falling from the seat of authority-- nothing else-- for it is 100% Mother Goose logic. Many a preacher boy will state this claim as if God had spoken it as absolute truth, but if you pin them down, they will quote their college or Bible Institute instructor, NOT the Bible. ]
Objection 8: Even if it can be proven that the New Testament churches had multiple elders, that would not necessarily be normative for the church today. After all, everyone agrees that believers in the Jerusalem church sold their goods and had all things in common, yet who suggests returning to that pattern today?
Reply: To say that the pattern of the New Testament church is not normative for us today is tantamount to saying that God has left us without any pattern at all. Distressing thought! Has God really left us at the mercy of human ingenuity in deciding how the ministry of His Church is to be ordered? Rather, let us say with the Psalmist, "I esteem right all Thy precepts concerning everything" (Ps. 119:128).
In regard to the selling of goods by believers in the Jerusalem church: (1) The passage in question, Acts 2:42-47, does not say that all those who believed sold all their possessions. This was not "Christian communism" as it is sometimes pictured. The use of the imperfect tense in verse 45 implies that from time to time, as necessary, they sold their goods to distribute to brethren in need. (2) I, for one, am not prepared to say that the example of these early Jerusalem saints is not the norm for believers today, particularly in light of the words of John's epistle:
But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him. (1 John 3:17)
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- We can demonstrate the results of inventing our own methods of church government in the use of voting, church business meetings, and democracy. This mongrel method of decision making is from the feet of iron and clay. Democracy always ends in dictatorship, and it is used today, by Jackboot preachers, to manipulate the "laity" into postures which sustain the power of the Nicolaitan manipulator. To say "times have changed" is very correct, but they are not the times of the Holy Ghost-- they are the "Times of the Gentiles" of the image of Daniel which have poisoned the Lord's Church. ]
Objection 9: You cannot deny that God has through the years mightily blessed many Pastors and churches who have used the one-Pastor system, and continues to do so today.
Reply: No one would think of denying this. Yet the problems mentioned above cannot reasonably be denied either. And who would claim that the fruitfulness of the Church as a whole is anywhere near the divinely intended level? Besides, it is a mistake to think that because God graciously blesses someone operating under a certain set of beliefs or practices, that He thereby endorses those beliefs or practices.
God has, for instance, greatly used many preachers, teachers, and missionaries who have held to the teaching that Christians may lose their salvation. Yet few who are taught in the Scriptures would suggest that this view therefore has God's sanction, or that it is unimportant to uphold the scriptural teaching of Salvation. Praise God, He does not require us to be perfect in our interpretation of Scripture before He will use us. If so, who could hope to be used? But as we are given further light on the Scriptures, it is our duty and our Joy to conform our beliefs and practices as nearly as possible to the Word of God.
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- A study of the life of Jehu is useful here. God said that Jehu's mind was like His mind, and God rewarded Jehu with the throne of Israel for four generations. But, God also saw to it that the canon included the comment that Jehu failed to kill the sodomites and destroy the golden calves. Does the zeal of Jehu negate the need to deal with the two faulted areas mentioned? NO, and that is why God noted it-- so that future generations would keep His holiness in final authority in the ways of men. ]
Objection 10: A multiple-elder system might well solve some problems, but at the same time it would create a whole new set of problems of its own.
Reply: This I willingly admit. When, however, you are operating under a scriptural pattern, the problems that arise are scriptural problems. That is, they are problems that have been anticipated in Scripture and for which guidance is provided in Scripture. Also, let us not forget that, quite apart from the question of what problems might be solved or created, we ought to follow the New Testament pattern simply because it is the New Testament pattern. We conform to the authority of Scripture as a matter of principle, not for pragmatic reasons. But when we do so, we invariably find God's way to be the best way.
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- There is within Fundamentalism a spirit to NOT rock the boat by calling for a more Bible centered church polity and structure. Friend, this is precisely the same reasoning used by the Pope as he calls his wayward priests to submit to the Old Mother Whore instead of applying what they find in their Bibles. I know a Catholic priest in India who has, along with his whole society, been excommunicated from the Catholic Church for calling that profane church back to its older heritage. Well, I will tell you something friend-- if you call the Fundamental churches back to an early Church Pauline church polity, you WILL become a pariah in your circle of pastoral Nicolaitan friends. That is about where I expect this article will land me. There is a price to be paid to be right with our Lord and His Word. ]
Objection 11: Surely you don't think all the problems you mentioned would vanish if our churches simply changed their pattern of leadership?
Reply: Unfortunately, no. Not overnight at least, particularly where the clergy-laity mentality has been firmly entrenched for decades. But even in such a case a return to the New Testament pattern, if wholeheartedly adopted by the local church, would certainly produce a dramatic effect. The manifold problems and unscriptural attitudes nurtured by the false clergy-laity distinction could at least begin to be resolved. In other situations, where a fresh start is possible (such as on the mission field, in new churches, or with new converts), these problems can be avoided altogether.
What shall we say then?
The one-man pastorate, far from having the sanction of Scripture, is essentially a "Protestantized" holdover from the Roman Catholic clerical system. For those of us who claim the Bible, rather than tradition, as our authority, it is time to fervently search the Scriptures to see if these things are so. (Acts 17:1l)
I would that every reader of this booklet might share the blessing I have found by "turning my feet to His testimonies" (Ps. 119:59) and choosing to meet in fellowship with those who gather in New Testament simplicity and order. I have written more about this in a small booklet entitled,
What I Have Found: My introduction to "brethren" assemblies.
A free copy may be obtained by writing to the publisher of this booklet.
Published by Spread the Word2721 Oberlin DriveYork, PA 17404
[ Editor: Steve Van Nattan-- Blessed Quietness Journal-- I must add a few observations here. I have seen the "Brethren" fellowships, and they DO have things they need to take care of, such as:
1. Brethren fellowships add some patented things which are not legally required in the New Testament.
a. These include the use of alcoholic wine in the Lord's Supper....
b. The insistence of the Lord's Supper every Sunday, whereas our Lord initiated the event at a once a year event called Passover. We are only told to do this "as oft as ye do it"....
c. The cursing of musical instruments during hymn singing, a law which is NOT anywhere in the Word of God....
d. The head covering, which is not very offensive, but it does not allow for the hair of the woman being her covering....
e. Some require foot washing as an ordinance equal to baptism and the Lord's Supper. This rule is NOT in the Word and in the Apostolic history of the New Testament church.
2. If sin comes into the assembly, especially in the youth, the leaders are often slow to deal with it since they don't want to make one another look bad.
3. The individual assemblies vary greatly from one to the other because there is no standard for anything other than one local church. This is not a serious problem as long as you understand that each assembly makes its own rules and standards. I know of one assembly in Chicago which insists that a speaker NOT carry a Bible into the pulpit so as not to offend the listeners, while on the other extreme, the vast majority of Brethren assemblies are King James Version only and very narrow and zealous for the Lord.
Having noted these weak areas in "Brethren" fellowships, I hasten to add that these people NEVER have the Jackboot problem of mean tempered pastors beating sheep and raging and ruling in the Lord's Church like Popelets. This makes their assemblies strong in leadership since they do not depend on only one man to figure out every detail of church life.
Of course, precious few Fundamental pastors will ever go near a Brethren assembly because they cannot take an offering and pocket it :-) But, I suggest that this kind of New Testament church structure is based in the Word of God and is ideal for the newly formed House Church. Indeed, anyone starting a church in the End of the Age of Grace should consider these things very thoughtfully.
LETTERS FROM READERS:
After a brief review of this article I must add that men such as William Grady who writes the books "Final Authority" And "What Hath God Wrought!" would not be in agreement with the author below and your comments. These Jackboot Baptists include men such as Grady even if he cross dresses as a sheep when it's time to defend the King James Bible to be the word of God. He is not a defender of the faith which was once given among the saints. Grady, and others, are absolutely set on their pet "AUTHORITY" issue and don't understand authority at all. It would do well for these men who are obsessed with their own AUTHORITY to understand where the authority comes from. For those who don't understand what it is to be UNDER authority; it would do well to read these scriptures:
Matthew 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. 14 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. 15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. [ Saved to serve! ]
Luke 7:1 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.2 And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. 8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
Notice that the centurion doesn't boast about his authority but is humble about being "under authority". Then our Lord Jesus gives witness of the centurion's faith and compares that faith to the lack thereof in Israel. There is much preaching here against the wicked Jackboot spirit of error...
Except for one point only I agree with your article of church leadership, that it should be the elders and not one single paid person. [ My wife ] and I briefly went to a Gospel Hall (Plymouth Brethern Assembly) 29 and one-half years ago as I was convinced at that time the system of a paid clergyman was wrong. We did not leave the liberal Baptist church that we were attending at the time to join them because of their use of alcoholic wine. I agreed with almost everything else they believed, [ My wife ] didn't but would have been willing to change if it hadn't been for the use of alcoholic wine. Because of that we have always stayed in the one pastor church system which I have merely tolerated because there was no fellowship anywhere else. Unlike you though I believe the head covering refers to an external covering and not the long hair itself.
On the subject of Bible versions I believe as you do (100%) and I am very grieved that our pastor (of a Missionary Church - a denomination that came out of the Mennonite denomination) and my friend has replaced his KJV with a NKJV. Approximately two years ago I gave him Gail Riplinger's book "New Age Bible Versions" and I asked him if he agreed with what the book said. His reply was that it's all here and it's all documented; so I believed at that time we were of the same mind on almost everything but obviously he has changed or he was not telling me the whole story.
Anyway, I found it interesting that you came to the conclusions you did about local church government and I am happy to see what you have discovered in the Bible. praise God.
A fellow believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and looking for that blessed hope and his glorious appearing.
Early in history, the church got off track and went the way of the world with clergy, buildings and all, but in the beginning it was not so. In the days of the Old Testament you needed leaders and superstars like David and Sampson, but not so in the New Testament period. We are all “kings and priests”. We all have equal access to God through our human spirit. We are like a vine, not a tree. Every born again believer is plugged into the vine. But to create a New Testament Hierarchal model is utter nonsense. We may as well just all become Roman Catholics again where the laity lost all touch with God (the vine) and had to go through a priest.
Today’s apostate church uses the world’s corporate or military model. The “church” of titles, ranks and job descriptions is from the world, not the Lord. The Bible speaks of gifts and functions – an apostle is one who is sent out to start churches. That’s what he does, not what he is. Others pastor, teach, oversee and prophesy. That is what they do, not offices they hold! This is a “functional” rather than a “positional” point of view. Man is not the head of the church, Jesus. There is only one head to the body and all instructions are issued from the head. They don’t flow down through the body. Every part of the body has a direct connection to the head. The world needs hierarchy and outward control.
Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. BUT IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU: but whoseoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant, even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:25-28)
Jesus repeats this in Luke 22:25-27. The Gentile world operates on the basis of a chain-of-command. Authority is based on position and rank. Leaders measure their greatness by power, influence and prominence. In the kingdom of God, the greatest is least and the least the greatest. The ruler is the one who serves the most. God’s way is the absolute opposite of the world’s way. The New Testament way is where you have a people controlled by the indwelling Spirit. Satan and the world always need hierarchy! Not so in the body of Christ!
But what about religious authority? Aren’t we supposed to revere and respect religious leaders? Jesus said,
But be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven, neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:8-12)
In the Jewish and apostate Christian world, there are religious leaders with titles – Rabbi, Pastor, Bishop, Priest, Reverend, Father, etc, but it should not be so among us. We are merely brothers and sisters in Christ, each gifted and functioning in His body. There may be pastors, teachers, prophets, evangelists and even apostles among us – but that is what they do, not what they are. A pastor is simply someone who pastors and cares for people. A teacher teaches. An apostle is sent out to start churches. Elders oversee. None of them “lord it over” the flock. We are all equals with different functions. We don’t need to have a committee to do a nationwide search for a pastor. We should look for the gifts in the saints among us. Each us has a gift and each should exercise it.
Offices or Functions?
The early church did not have a person who was the CEO of a 501c3 tax exempt organization, who directed the staff, preached on Sundays and conducted weddings, funerals and Eucharistic services, and psychological counseling . This is an extra-Biblical carry over from the Roman Catholic Church, and now, if the C. Peter Wagner’s have their way, we will have another hierarchy of apostles paralleling Rome. There is no such figurehead in the church! It is this very clergy/laity organization that has had such a crippling effect on the saints. For the saints themselves should be shepherding, overseeing and teaching, not some “professional” who has advanced post-graduate education in church growth, management, organization, creator of programs, exegesis of the Word, and chief cook and bottle washer! There is no such thing in the New Testament as an elder-driven, board-driven or pastor-led church! The church is simply brothers and sisters in Christ meeting together and ministering to one another.
I Corinthians 12:28 does not describe an organizational hierarchy when he says, “and God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” He describes logical functions: the one who gives birth to the church (the apostle), the one who imparts vision (the prophet), the one who lays the Biblical foundation (the teacher) and so on. When describing characteristics of elders or deacons, he is talking about qualities of a person functioning in that capacity, not qualifications for an office. A brother or sister functions in a group because he has been dealt with and refined by the daily working of the Holy Spirit. Others recognize their gift, their experience and authority in certain matters. But these are gifts and functions – not offices held. Their legitimacy is recognized by others because of their “servanthood” and their fruit, not because they were elected or appointed to office. An apostle proves his gift by raising up churches. An evangelist proves his gift by his fruit (bringing people to the Lord), a teacher by his teaching and a pastor by caring for others. These are all functions rather than offices bestowed. You don’t have to study for years to learn to be something. You let the Lord so work in your life that you become a gift to the body.
We have gotten so far away from the true church, the simple body life, I doubt that we will ever find it without a good dose of tribulation! Only when we have been shaken free of our preconceptions, the world, our possessions and our preoccupations and realize that it is all coming down – only then will we get real and discover the treasure that lies within the least of the saints, and let it be set free! Only when our organizations, programs and professionals have been exposed for the sham they are, will the body be free to be the body Christ intended where every member functions according to the life worked into it by the Lord.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of services, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ,
From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 3:11-16)
My prayer is that, as you meditate on these verses, the Lord will show you His body and how it has absolutely nothing to do with the institution we call the “church”. God puts a variety of people in our midst. He works in their lives and through them to build up others. They don’t go to Bible School and Seminary. They go through the “school of hard knocks” as they grow and mature in the Lord. They function – not to build up an office and draw a big salary, but to raise others up so the whole body will be knit together and every individual part is working properly, allowing the love and life of the Lord to flow though the body causing it to grow and build up itself in love. These gifted men don’t hog the whole show, but they protect the younger ones and encourage them to be connected and grow to maturity themselves. They don’t dominate. They facilitate and encourage others to function.
I am so excited by passages such as this, but so inadequate to explain what they mean. Unless you have experienced it, it is like describing a good movie to a caveman. I actually experienced this “church life” in a wonderful way so I know it works. Those were days in which we abandoned everything for Christ and His body. It was so much more than just meetings. But today, there is so little commitment. A meeting doesn’t make a “church life” whether it is in a building or a home. We’ll get into this later. Meanwhile, Christians move from one program to another. That is why cell churches, mega churches, meta churches, apostles and prophets and all that sounds so appealing to Christians these days. We want something more and hope that the next fad will be ‘It’. We fall further and further away from God’s ultimate intention as expressed in Ephesians 3 – a corporate expression of Himself on the earth – an organism called the “church.”
I’ll have more to say on what we can do about this in a later chapter, but now we have to talk about one of the most abused and misused practices in Christianity today which is an outgrowth of the apostles and prophets movement – accountability!