Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quote of the Day

Liberals and liberal institutions condemn the worst aspects of capitalism in order to preserve the system as a whole.
Most Americans want more investment in the nation’s infrastructure. They want universal healthcare and more funding for schools. They want New Orleans rebuilt and their bridges secure. Liberals know that, unless the system can deliver on some level, the majority will eventually reject that system.
Wiser capitalists remember the French Revolution. Those who take too much can lose their heads. Billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett prefer to return a small piece of the pie than forfeit the entire bakery.
Gates criticizes the “inequality gap” and devotes a tiny portion of his fortune to charity. Buffett says it’s unfair that he pays less than 18 per cent of his income in taxes, when his secretary pays 30 per cent of hers. Gates and Buffett aren’t socialists. Like the robber-baron philanthropists of the last century, they understand that their class must appear generous to preserve its system of organized thievery.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Position of the Modern Day Pastor

Now, let's take a look at the position of the modern day pastor. As it is today, I believe the position is unscriptural. No doubt, many good men have started out right, but have fallen into this snare, by being put, or putting themselves into an unscriptural position. First of all, nowhere in the Bible will you find that a church was ruled by one man. Nowhere! Yet most churches today are. But, where does the Bible say that a church should be run by one man? If you know of one clear example or one Scriptural command, please let me know.
The word pastor ("poimen"), is used without end today, and was mentioned only once in the New Testament, (Eph. 4:11, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; The word pastor means to "feed" or to "shepherd". According to the context of the text in Eph. 4, it appears that "pastoring" is a spiritual gift, not a position or a calling. However, the most common word used in the Bible for leaders in the churches was "elders" ("presbuteros" which means older) and "bishops" ("episkope" which means overseer). "Elder" was the Jewish name and "bishop" was the Greek name for the same office, and they both are interchangeable. "Elder" is an older man, and "bishop" is the word for his office (work), or ministry as an overseer. They represent the same person. This is proven in Acts 20:17. "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church." Now, look down at verse 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." Notice that here in this verse he refers to the elders (presbuteros) of verse 17, as "overseers" in verse 28. Paul calls the men "elders" and says that their ministry is to be "overseers". Note carefully that the Greek word used here for the word "overseers" is "episkopos", the very same word as for "bishop" Hence, he is calling these leaders of the church "elders" in verse 17 and "bishops" (overseers) in verse 28. The words are interchangeable. They were "elders" and it was their job to "oversee" the church. This refutes the idea that the pastor of the church is the only bishop, and the other mature Christian men who lead in the church are the elders. No, this verse says that Paul called the elders of the church of Ephesus, (and there is no mention of a pastor or a single elder). It was the elder's job to be overseers or bishops. There is no mention or even a hint to a single pastor of this church in Ephesus. Referring to these leaders in the churches, they are always plural in each church. Notice in Acts 20:17, that Paul called the elders (plural) of the church. One church (Ephesus), but many elders, or mature spiritual men who were the leaders in the church.
Look at some other examples where leadership in the early church was plural. "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi , with the bishops and deacon"s: Phil 1:1 (The church at Philippi had many elders, or bishops (overseers), and deacons (servants) (no mention of one pastor)
"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". Acts 14:23 (Notice they appointed elders (plural) in every church (singular). (No mention of one singular leader being appointed over each church)
"And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and [of] the apostles and elders…".Acts 15:4.(This verse says one church in Jerusalem, but elders is plural) (No pastor or singular ruler mentioned) (Later, when the apostles died off, that left the elders to lead the church).
"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. (Bible Dict. says each of these cities in Crete had only one church)
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church’; James 5:14 (one church, many elders, or overseers in the church)
1Thes 5:12-13 "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake". (He is speaking to the local, church of Thessalonica (who the letter is written to) and saying to "know them" and "esteem them" for "their work's sake." (all plural) This is speaking of the elders in the church at Thessalonica.) (No pastor mentioned). (It did not say, to know him which labours among you, and is over you in the Lord, and admonishes you; and to esteem him very highly in love for his work's sake.)
There are many other similar verses, but I think these will do. If you disagree, then please show me a church in the Bible where one man was the only leader. I will help you. I can think of one example. It is in Third John 1:9-11. I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth [them] out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. (Preeminence means first place. He had the preeminence or first place in the church and loved it. He was running the church, forbidding others in the church to receive brethren, and was casting people out that opposed him) Sounds like this church was run by one man, but John condemned it. Now, today a pastor holds a POSITION in the church, which will put him in a place of preeminence. Even Diotrephes didn't have the position of being a singular leader, as do modern day pastors. He, as an elder, just gained more power from the church over the other elders and became preeminent and ran the church. A modern day pastor may be a good man, or he may be a bad man, but the position automatically puts him in the place of preeminence. Now, the question is, "Should there be that one position of authority in the local church?" I believe the Bible teaches that it is wrong.
Don't think that no one else believes this. C. I. Scofield said in his notes in the "Old Scofield Bible", "There is no instance of one elder in a local church.... Elders are made or set in the churches by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28). At first they were ordained by an apostle (Acts 14:23), but in Titus and 1 Timothy the qualifications of an elder become part of the Scriptures for the guidance of the churches." Scofield's note for 3 John says, "The aged Apostle had written to a church which allowed one Diotrephes to exercise an authority common enough in later ages, but wholly new in the primitive churches. Historically, this letter marks the beginning of that clerical and priestly assumption over the churches in which the primitive church order disappeared. John addresses this letter to a faithful man in the church for the comfort and encouragement of those who were standing fast in the primitive simplicity."
Some say that the pastor can have many assistant pastors (as in a big church), then that is a plurality of elders in the church. But, that seems to make the pastor the senior pastor or chief shepherd. If so, that statement is bordering on blasphemy. The Bible says that Jesus is the Chief Shepherd. "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd" (Jesus, the Shepherd ("poimen") which means pastor) and Bishop (Overseer) of your souls. (1Peter 2:25)."And when the chief Shepherd (JESUS) shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away." Thus all the elders in the local church are the under shepherds all on the same level. There is no provision from the Scriptures for a senior elder or senior pastor over the others.
The pastor is not the head of the church. Colossians 1:18 says, "And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence." Now, you tell me, how can they both have the preeminence? You say, "Well, the pastor is in that position to be a servant to the flock. He represents Christ in the church. He is the undershepherd. Christ can't be the literal head of the church, so the pastor is the visible representative of Christ in the church." Did you know those are dangerous words. What you are saying is the same thing the Catholics say about the Pope, that he represents Christ on the earth to the church in doing the Lord's will. Are you saying that the pastor is in the place or position of representing Christ? Surely, you don't believe a man takes the place of Christ in the church, do you? The Bible clearly says that Jesus IS the Head of the church, and if the pastor is going to be His representative head in the church, the Scriptures would have told us. But, you won't find it. So, men should not twist Scriptures to make it appear that way.
One might say, "Well, the pastor is not the head, but a servant to the church." But, whether he is a servant or not depends on the man, not the position. He can be a servant and serve the church without being in this elevated position of authority that exists today. We probably get this idea from the term "office of the bishop" in the Scriptures, "This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work". (1Tim. 3:1). But, the word "office" simply means a "service", a "ministering", or a "work". In other words, "the work of an overseer." The work of any overseer in the church is to watch over, and protect the group. You can't say that it refers to a singular position of authority. It is for any qualified elder in the church that desires it. In no way does it represent an elevated position in the church over the brotherhood, for that would divide an equal brotherhood that Jesus spoke of.
When the Bible speaks of an "office of a bishop", it is not referring to one position in the church that has authority over all other members in the church. For example, did you know that Judas was a bishop? Did you know that he also had a bishop's office? But, Judas was not a pastor of a church. Speaking of Judas, Acts 1:19 says, "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". But, look what that passage in Psalms says referring to Judas, "Let his days be few; [and] let another take his office". Ps 109:8. "Bishoprick" means office of a bishop. So, Judas had an office of a bishop or a bishoprick. (One of twelve offices or "bishopricks"). But, Judas had no church, nor authority, and was not over the other apostles. Jesus called him to a service, a ministry, a work, or an "office", and sent him out with the other disciples to preach the gospel. The elders in a local church, however, were "not called" to a service or office, but only had to "desire" it, ("If a man desire the office of a bishop"). But, an elder did have to meet the qualifications for it, given in 1Tim. and Titus. So, any qualified, spiritually mature man in the church, who desired the work of a bishop or overseer, could have a bishoprick in that local church. "And when they had ordained them elders in every church," Acts 14:23. Who? The mature spiritual men who desired it and were qualified. This in no way indicates one position of authority in a local church by a pastor. So, this position in the church where the pastor rules over the church is not the "office of a bishop". It may be a distortion of it. Let me be very clear. It is not the man that is wrong, it is the position, and in many cases will, with time, make the man wrong. He will tend to gradually gain more and more authority and responsibilities in the church while the people become more accountable to him and less accountable to Christ. (That is why followers of men are carnal as Paul pointed out to the Corinthians) Any person only has as much power as is given to him. The more authority that the people of the church give the pastor, the more powerful he becomes. In many cases he gains this power from the people by reminding them of his "position", and twisting Scriptures to support it. The position of singular leadership in the church will make him preeminent in the church and divide an equal brotherhood into clergy and laity.
The men of the church will become more accountable to him and less responsible to Christ. Little by little, he will take the place of Christ. Now, we did not get this from the Scriptures, but like many things in the church that are traditional, we got this idea of a separate level of "clergymen" from the Catholic Church. They were the ones that developed an hierarchy in their church consisting of a pope, bishops, cardinals, priests, etc. Changing the name to pastor doesn't change anything. But, the Scriptures say that Jesus is to have preeminence in the church in all things. He is the Head. Only He should be in that position. Each man in the church is responsible to the headship of Christ. Service, ministering, and leadership should come from an equal brotherhood of elders in the church.
Peter also condemns it.Listen to what Peter says about the subject of being an elder. "Neither as being lords over [God's] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock". (1Peter 5: 3) They are not to be lords, but to be an example to the flock. They are not to be preeminent, or in a position that automatically puts them in first place. They are not to be lords. A lord can be good or bad, but he still is a lord. They are to be a servant and an example to the flock.
Paul condemns it.Look what happened at the church of Ephesus. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. (skip to verse 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. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:17-28. (Notice the leaders in the church were: (1) to be plural, ( 2) to oversee (protect) the flock, and (3) to feed the flock ) Look at verse 29, where Paul says after his departing (after his death?) that some of them would draw men after their ownselves, to have men be their disciples. Each of these wicked elders tried to get men to follow him so he could have preeminence. Now, this did happen as Paul predicted. Look at Ephesus during the year 96 AD. 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; 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: But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Rev 2:1-6. (Jesus said "thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.") (These are the "grievous wolves" Paul mentioned in Acts 20, those claiming to be apostles, and trying to draw men after themselves.) Notice, right after this statement of men claiming to be apostles, you find for the first time the word "Nicolaitans." Look at verse 6, and you will find that Jesus complimented the Ephesians for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans. The word Nicolaitans is a compound word, "nikao" which means "to conquer", and "laos" which means "people". Put it together and you have "conqueror of the laity", or "conqueror of the people". This was an attempt to usher in a priestly order or clergy. Sounds familiar doesn't it? We know they later became successful because in Rev. 2:6, the "deeds" of the Nicolaitans later became the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans in Rev. 3:15 at the church in Pergamos. But, Jesus condemns this modern idea of a clergy which divides an equal brotherhood. Remember, Jesus said in Matt 23:8, "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and ALL YE ARE BRETHREN." So, we are not to have spiritual masters or leaders, because Christ is our spiritual master and leader. He said you can't serve two masters.
Distorted Position of the Pastor.It is important that you realize that there was plurality of elders in the church, because one man would easily be tempted to run the church, thus becoming the head of the church. But, the pastor is not the head of the church; Jesus is. The Bible clearly states that Jesus is the head of the church, and that it is not to be run by one man. Remember, the saved people make up the church and Jesus is to be their head. Modern day clergy claims to be the "undershepherd", serving in the place of Christ to that local church. (they get this from 1Pet 5:4, "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.") (But, if you look at the previous verses, it says that Peter is writing to the elders, not pastors. Elders are not to lord over God's people, but to be examples. They also are not to receive base gain; "not for filthy lucre". (money, note below) Other verses elsewhere say that they are to feed the flock, serve as overseers, and to take care of the church.) This sounds like being a helper, not a ruler or lord. The position has become distorted probably because the church has become distorted, being more like a business requiring a businessman to run it. God did not scripturally organize a church to be like a business, so there was no foundation for a "minister" to be like an executive.
Important note: You will not find one example of a minister in the Bible who received a salary. Not one. However, the Bible is very clear that Christians support the poor and give offerings to meet needs of those in full time ministry, but never did they give a salary. Even Jesus received offerings for His work while on earth. [not a tithe; the tithe went to the Temple] But, He did not receive a salary. Paul worked and supported his ministry along with those who helped him, but he received no salary either. Today, we have professionally trained pastors, ministers, and missionaries who receive salaries. The Bible states that gifts of financial help should be given to poor brethren, but that doesn't mean they receive a salary. Likewise, the Scripture teaches that those who minister in the gospel should receive financial help, but for a minister to receive a salary for his services seems to put him into the category of a hireling receiving "filthy lucre". You say it depends on why he is doing it. True, but the idea of a salary is foreign to any servant in the Bible, (only the O.T. Levites were commanded to receive tithes from the people, because they had no inheritance in Israel.) Futhermore, you will not find any of God's servants that were professionally trained or educated specifically for the ministry.
Three different kinds of churches concerning its leadership. First, there is the church that is run by the people. The Bible calls it the Laodicean church. ("Laos"= people, "dicea" = rule by) It is run by the "laity" or the people. All decisions are made by the people. The people run the church. They just have a vote by everyone in the church in a business meeting. Needless to say, there is no Scripture for this method.
Secondly, there is the church that is run by one man, the pastor. Now, we swing all the way to the other end of the pendulum. Some are run by a hierarchy of clergymen with one man in charge of the church. But, in many, it is usually the pastor ruling alone. He may pretend to let others in on the leadership or act as his advisors, but there is no doubt that he is in charge. He is "God's man". The Bible refers to this as the Nicolatian church, or the conqueror of the people. He really makes the decisions, and the people "rubber stamp" them because he is the "man of God" and God direct His will through His "man". The people feel that God will direct him, so they will usually go along with him. Most all churches today are run by one of the above methods, and most people don't realize there is a third way, and the right way.
Thirdly, there is the church that is not run by the people, nor is it run by a man, but by the Lord Jesus. It should be, because He is the Head of the church. It is His church. I admit you won't find many of those today, because churches are not meeting Scripturally. Jesus is outside the church, knocking on the door to get in. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20.) Here He is speaking to the church of our age, the Laodician church, or the church run by the people. But, He isn't in the Nicolatian church either, which is run by a clergyman, because He said He hated their deeds and doctrine. (Rev. 2:1-6) So, you ask, how does Jesus become the head of His church? The Scriptures indicate that He guides the church by the Scriptures by a group of men in the church called elders that the Holy Spirit has appointed. They are all equal brethren that are not "professionals", but have been raised up through that church, not hired. They have equal authority with one another and they have Jesus as their Head. These men are to help other Christians to follow the Lord, and by no means were they to be in an elevated position to be rulers over the others in the place of Christ.
Now, look at today's clergy. You see, a clergy, or priestly order, or "men of God", or what ever you want to call them, did and does today divide an equal brotherhood. Some of these men today call themselves "men of God" or "God's man". They claim to have a special "calling" or anointing. Funny, they talk so much about a special calling, and I can't find it anywhere in the Scriptures, other than the call to be an apostle or a preacher. But no calling for pastor, elder, or bishop. Everywhere it was for the people of the church to recognize these men whom the Holy Spirit had raised up among them. The office of a bishop was for anyone who desired it and met the qualifications; there was no special calling from God mentioned. So, they claim to have a special call or anointing that others don't have, and that God will lead His people and show them His will for their lives through these "men of God". Since there is no position in the Bible for these clergymen, they have created one, and they call it the "office of the pastor". But, what office are they using as their pattern? I believe they could be claiming one of the following offices, and then renaming it (pastor) whenever they claim to be "the man of God".
(1) Old Testament Prophet?Many of the pastors today compare their leadership to that of Moses or others that were God's men in the Old Testament. They claim to be the "man of God" leading God's people today. They say, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." Ps 105:15. This is a favorite verse of the clergy today to hold over the heads of the people. But, are these so called "men of God" today who claim to have a special calling from God to lead His people, claiming to be some kind of Old Testament man of God? Well, first of all, the verse in Ps. 105:15 about "touch not mine anointed" was referring to the nation of Israel, not to a man. (Read verses 9-14.) You see, God is saying in these verses that all His children in the nation of Israel were His anointed. Furthermore, in the New Testament, 1 John 2:27 says that all Christians today are anointed, "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." So, all Christians are anointed of the Lord. This verse says that all Christians have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, and He teaches us all things, so we have no need of a "man of God" to spiritually lead us. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God leads us. Others can help show what the Word says, and rightly divide the Word for you (as I am doing), but if you really learn anything that is "spiritual" it takes the Holy Ghost to reveal it to you, and you must be given the liberty to allow Him to. In other words, you can learn of God by the Holy Spirit just as well as any other man, including the leaders in the church. God will not just enlighten or reveal spiritual things to a pastor to relay to others. All saved people are "spiritual" and can discern spiritual things. "God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit…but which the Holy Ghost teacheth: comparing spiritual things with spiritual." 1Cor 2:10&13. This in no way says these spiritual things are comprehended only by spiritual leaders in the church, but states clearly that all saved people can and will know the truth when it is revealed to them. Even a carnal Christian will know the truth when it is revealed to him. He may not do it, or accept it, but he will know it is true, if he is saved, because the Holy Spirit is in him and will bear witness of the truth. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and He will lead us (all saved people) unto the truth. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. John 16:13. Not may guide. Jesus said that He will guide us into all truth! "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."
Let me illustrate. A "man of God" says that God has revealed to him some new twist on salvation, whether if it's God electing certain ones for salvation, or that you can lose your salvation, or that it's by works, or some other crazy notion that he may get. What do most people in the church do? Many will say, "Well, he is "God's man," so surely God has spoken to him. I don't fully understand it, but God leads him in order to lead us, and since I want to be a good submissive Christian, and support my pastor, I will follow him." And, many people in the churches do just that, and the whole church goes into heresy. But, the Bible says we are all His anointed and not some clergyman only. God teaches and speaks to all of us by His Word through the Holy Spirit and each of us will be held accountable to God. All saved people are His "priesthood". "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (1Peter 2:5). We all will be held accountable; every single Christian. "Individual Christians must do their own believing, just as they must do their own dying."
Maybe you like making a man your spiritual Head, so that you can get out of making Christ your Head. It may make you more comfortable and less committed, but you will always be a carnal Christian, because you have the wrong Head and you will answer to Jesus someday at the judgment seat of Christ. And, it may be more serious than we think, to make man our head. It is all right to follow good men, learn from good men, and even hold them up as an example to be like, but remember, Christ is your Head.
But, then the verse adds, "and do my prophets no harm." But, surely they don't claim to be an OT prophet. These men in the Old Testament held a special office, and were called by God to proclaim His word and His will to the nation of Israel. They performed great miracles and predicted future events. God gave them special revelations. "…but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). In that day, God spoke to the prophets with an audible voice or through dreams and visions. Most OT prophets came out of the desert or wilderness to proclaim their message. Most wore a coarse dress of hair cloth, as did Elijah and John the Baptist. They often led a wandering and unsettled life and were very simple in their manner of life. Lastly, most OT prophets I know in the Bible were matyred. These were all qualifications for people to recognize God's true prophets. Surely, today's "men of God" are not claiming to be OT prophets. They don't qualify, and besides, that office is not for today.
(2) New Testament Apostle?Could it be that they are trying to be like the apostles, "God's man" in the New Testament? But, the qualification for an apostle was that he had to be "called" to be one, and he had to have been an eyewitness of Jesus' life and an eyewitness of his resurrection. (1 Cor 9:1, "Am I not an apostle, am I not free, have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord, are not ye my work in the Lord?" (Paul saw Him on the road of Damascus) That knocks everyone out today. There are no apostles today. There are not many today that would admit they're trying to be an apostle. They're smarter than that, but they are trying to behave as one, and trying to get people to treat them as one. They get by with it by renaming the office, substituting the phrase "man of God" for the word apostle. They don't claim to be an apostle, but they do claim the office. You hear them say, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ." (1 Cor 11:1). But, wait a minute. Paul said these words, and he was a true apostle. The New Testament was in the writing stages, so in order for churches to know the will of God, they asked the apostles, and God spoke through them. He still does today, not through pastors, but through the apostle's writings, the Scriptures, so there is no need for modern day apostles or "men of God." Now, when you hear someone say, "I'm going to follow my pastor because he is "God's man," you better be careful. You better be sure he is following the Scriptures. But, better yet, why don't you follow the Scriptures? God holds you accountable to follow the Scriptures, not a man. During your judgment someday, you will not give an account of how you followed a man, but how you followed the Scriptures. Your total life will be judged according to your obedience to the Scriptures. The middle verse in all the Bible says, "[It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." Ps 118:8. Over in 2 Tim 4:3-4, it says, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth." An elder, or bishop is to be a helper to you, and to assist you by pointing out Scriptures. His attitude should not be "follow me", but "let me help you follow the Lord." Jesus is your head. He is the head of the body, His church. He will lead you, and teach you by the Spirit of Truth, (the Holy Spirit) and make you to grow as a Christian. Jesus is your head. He is your authority. How? By the Word of God, the Scriptures. You follow Jesus today by following His Scriptures.
Pastors Today Claim More Authority than the Apostles did in the Bible.Did you know that many pastors or "men of God" today demand more from you than the apostles did? Even the apostles didn't demand and expect the obedience that pastors do today. Look what Paul who was a true apostle said. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered [them] to you". (from God, to Paul the apostle, to man) But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ;" 1 Cor 11:1 Notice that Paul, as an apostle, said to follow him as he followed the Lord, and to obey the commands that he had given them, but then he quickly added, "BUT I WOULD HAVE YOU KNOW, THAT THE HEAD OF EVERY MAN IS CHRIST". He is, even as a true apostle, reminding them that Jesus is their head or authority and not Paul. Follow Paul, yes, but Jesus is their Head. They will give an answer to Jesus someday, not to Paul. And, you, my friend, will give an answer some day how you followed Jesus, not a man. Paul also said, (remember he was a true apostle), "Not for that we have dominion over your faith , but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand" 2 Cor 1:23. So, elders, the ones who take the leadership in the church, should be helpers, not lords, for a lord is one who has dominion over others. By the way, who did Jesus put into a position of leadership over the other apostles after He left? Nobody. Now, Peter would have no doubt been a good leader, and many of the other apostles probably looked to him for leadership, but he was not put into a position of leadership over the others. Jesus did not say, "Well, I'm getting ready to leave you, but don't worry, I'm going to leave Peter in charge while I'm gone. He will take my place, so you need to follow him." No, Jesus did not do that. He did not create a position and leave someone in charge to lead the others. Now, Peter did seem to be a leader, and the others looked up to him. (He said, "I go a fishing", and the others went with him.) He did have influence. He had been very close to the Lord, and was very qualified to be their leader, but Jesus did not put him in a position to be their leader. Why? Because Jesus left someone else to take His place over them. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth : for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you." John 16:13,14. Jesus did not appoint any man to take his place, but he sent the Holy Spirit to take his place on the earth. I am not against leadership, because the Bible teaches that the more spiritual men should lead in the church, which the Bible refers to as elders or overseers. But I am against a singular position of authority in the church. You hear many pastors say, "you are not to submit to me, but to my position. I may not be much, but you should honor my position." Now, that friend is dangerous. You better make sure the man is worthy to be followed, and that he loves the Lord, and meets the qualifications in 1Tim. and Titus, because the position is wrong. He is using that remark to bring you under his authority. The word "position" means rank or status, so when they speak of position, they are saying that they outrank you in the Lord because of their position, whereby we get the concept of the clergy-laity division. But, Jesus said, "But be not ye called Rabbi: (a position of a spiritual leader. Today we would say Reverend, Pastor, Doctor, or some other spiritual title), "for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren." Jesus is saying that we are all on the same level. He told his disciples they were all equal brethren, and not one of them was to let others put any of them in a higher position, and they were not to put someone else in that position either. Jesus said it was the Gentile's (what we are) nature to want to have authority over others. "But Jesus called them [to him], and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all". Mark 10:42-44. Gentiles (non-Jews) like to have authority over others. It is their nature, Jesus says. But, a servant is not a lord and a lord is not a servant. They are opposites. A servant does not and cannot exercise authority. He is a servant. He serves. If he is greatest (closest to the Lord), then we ought to submit and learn from him. A person may be closer to the Lord (as Peter and John were), thus you should submit to them to learn more about the Lord. But, you are submitting to a person, not a position.
(3) Old Testament Priests?So, I have clearly shown you that modern day pastors are not prophets or apostles in any way, shape, or form. What their position might closely resemble, yet they would deny it, is the office of the Old Testament priests. In the Old Testament, the priests were from the tribe of the Levites. They were to care for the Temple or the "house of God." They received tithes from the people for their livelihood. They were an intermediary between God and man. They performed the sacrifices in the Temple.
The modern day pastor in most churches likewise is in a special group of spiritual leaders (like the Levites), called the clergy. They also preside over the "house of God" or their building the church meets in. They also receive tithes from God's people, from which part of it goes for their livelihood for their services in the "temple". (some churches even have "Temple" in their name.) They in many ways act as an intermediary between God and man. ("Follow me as I follow Christ." "God will lead me to lead you.")
But, nowhere in the Bible will you find a command from God that one man should act as a priest in a New Testament church. He is not an intermediary between God and man. As Spirit filled Christians, we each are our own "priesthood", and have no need of a priest or intermediary. "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood , to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light". 1Pet 2:5,9.
(4) The Vicar of Christ?This one, friend, is the scary one. Does a modern day pastor of a local church claim to be the "vicar" or representative of Christ to that local church? He may if he carries his position too far. Many do claim to be the representative head of Christ in that particular church. (Don't they say that they are the "undershepherd" representing the Shepherd?) However, it is the position that has been created that makes him the representative head of Christ. (disagree? Then what church in the New Testament had a position for a single pastor?) If he claims to be the "spiritual leader" in the church, then he is getting close to becoming the "vicar". Now, the word "vicar" comes from a Latin word "vicarious", which means substitute. The pope outwardly claims that he is the Vicar of Christ. He claims that he has been given authority by God to act as Christ's substitute on the earth and to the church. He is Christ's representative on the earth. Now, friend, this is heresy. The disciples asked Jesus, "…what [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many ..." Matt 24:3-5. Now, I have never heard too many people come right out and say that they are Christ, but, are they claiming his position in the church? The pope sure does. He outwardly claims to have a position of being Jesus' representative or substitute head in the church. (In other words, Jesus can't be here, so He put me in his place to represent Him. {Remember Peter?} The World Book Encyclopedia says that the "pope is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. The members regard him as the visible head and Christ the invisible head of the church.") Again, that is heresy! Nowhere did Christ say that he was choosing someone to represent himself as the head of the church. Christ is the head of the church. The Bible makes that very clear. Now, surely a pastor would not want to be identified with that kind of a position. But, what does a pastor mean then, when he says, "It is not me, but my position that you are to respect and follow"? Or, "You are to submit to my position as your pastor." When he says, "Follow me as I follow Christ", what is he actually saying? What does he mean when he says, "Christ will lead and direct the church through me?" Is he claiming the position of Christ in the church? This kind of pastor is saying that as the Holy Spirit leads him, he will lead the church. Where is this in the Bible? He becomes the intermediary or link between Christ and the other men of the church. Do you see how that when he speaks this way, he is being like a pope to that local church. He is the "clergyman" and everybody else is the laity. (by the way, the word "pope" means "papa". But, Jesus said call no man "father", for you have but one father in Heaven. He is claiming to be your spiritual "papa", or your spiritual leader.) So, have Baptist and other denominations substituted the word "pastor" for the word "pope" or "vicar of Christ"? Friend, if you haven't figured it out yet, this is cultish. (definition of cult is "an obsessive devotion to a person or idea.") The person can be the pastor and the idea can be his position. Your devotion should not be to a person or a position, but to the Lord. You should be devoted to Jesus, not some man or his position. That is why Paul sharply rebuked the Corinthians, because they were making men their leaders. ("I'm of Paul", "I'm of Cephas", "I'm of Apollos") ( but these good men would not allow others to make them their heads.) As I have said before, you may learn from good men, and follow good men, but your devotion and service is to the Lord. He is your head. He is your spiritual authority. The Bible says we should follow good men that help us follow the Lord. You are to follow what you see in them. (if it is of the Lord) Remember them which have the rule (a standard or guide) over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: WHOSE FAITH FOLLOW, considering the end of [their] conversation. (behavior) Also, notice here it doesn't say to follow the men, but to follow their faith, and beware of their behavior, because men may go wrong. This sounds like you are to look for examples or patterns to follow. You should want to follow men who are close to the Lord and display His character. Learn from them how to be more like the Lord. Then you are following their example or life (if it is Christlike), and you are learning those characteristics. You are following their example not a position of authority. "Neither as being lords over [God's] heritage, but being ensamples (examples) to the flock". (1Peter 5: 3) We are to follow their exampleship, yes, but not their lordship, because there should not be any. These elders in the church are not bosses. They are not to exercise lordship. They are not to be lords. They are to set the example according to Scripture, and the others will take notice and follow them. But, they are to make sure these men are following the Scriptures. When one of the elders in the church in Third John became preeminent and began to practice bad habits, John told Gaius to not follow him, but to follow one of the others. (Now, John could not have made that statement if Diotrephes held the position of a pastor.) If a pastor is in the position of authority in the church, then he is in charge. He is the authority. He becomes the head of that particular church. He may say he is not a lord, but rather a servant. However, the position makes him an authority over others in the church, thus making him a lord. Again, the Bible clearly teaches that Christ is the head of the church. There is no mention of him placing someone else in charge of his church. Why? Because Jesus is the head of the church. "And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church. Eph 1:22 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church". Eph 5:23 "And he is the head of the body, the church.... that in all [things] he might have the preeminenc"e. Col 1:18. Christ is the head of the church. How? By the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Vicar of Christ on earth. The Holy Spirit is the representative of the Lord Jesus Christ to his church. The Bible also says that Jesus is the head of man. "But I would have you know, that the head of EVERY MAN is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God." 1Cor. 11:1.
What is the "church"? Saved men, women, boys, and girls. Jesus, head of the church, is also head of the men of that church. The men in turn are the heads of their wives and children. "Yes, I know, but who is the authority in the church?" I've already told you, Jesus is. "How?" By the Holy Spirit and by the Holy Scriptures. The older Christian men are the elders in the church, and it is their responsibility to submit to Christ. The qualified elders who take on the responsibilities of overseers in the church are to feed the flock, act as overseers (protectors of the truth), and to be examples or patterns to follow. But, they are not an authority over the spiritual lives of others in the church. They are workers among the men, not over them. " And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you (more mature) in the Lord, and admonish you"; (1 Thes. 5:12) There is a big difference between elders leading and working among the men, than if the elders became a class of clergymen and laboured over them. Ever wonder why many preachers or pastors cannot have close fellowship with their people, but must find it with other pastors instead? That is proof there is a separation of the brotherhood, the clergy and the laity. But, friend, you won't find a position of authority for one man given in the local church in the Bible. It is not there. As I have said before, Christ did not give any command for one man to take his place in being the head of the church. When Jesus was on the earth, he led his disciples. When he left them, he did not put someone else in charge. He did not appoint somebody to take his place. He had several good men to choose from that would have made a good choice. But, Jesus left no one in charge to take his place. Jesus said that he would leave the Holy Spirit to take his place, and that He would lead us by the Holy Spirit. The more spiritual men, or elders should know how to follow the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, and then it will be easy for the others to follow them. If they don't, then you don't follow them. It's that simple. Now, that is the position of authority in the church. Jesus, the head of the church via the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Men should submit to that and we should help other men to do likewise.
Any man that puts himself into a position to exercise authority over a church is following the same error the pope does. He claims to be in the place of Christ in the church. He claims to be the visible head representing an invisible Christ. He is the "vicar of Christ" or "substitute" of Christ. ("vicar means substitute) This man, the pope, is also an "antichrist". "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there MANY antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." 1 John 2:18. Friend, did you know that anyone who takes the place of Christ is an antichrist? The word antichrist means "against Christ," "taking the place of Christ," "instead of Christ," or "usurper of Christ's name and rights." When a man says that he is in a position of authority representing Christ in the church, watch out! "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist , that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [(but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also" 1 John 2:18-23. This verse says that anyone that denieth the son is an antichrist. I always thought that the word "deny" here meant to not believe or declare untrue, and it does mean that, but "deny" here can also mean to "refuse to acknowledge" or "ignore", because the verse ends by saying "but (a contrast) "he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also." (So, a person that does not acknowledge Christ is also an antichrist). In other words, one may say that he believes Jesus is the Christ, (the Devil knows that), but to refuse to recognize or acknowledge him as Christ (in your life or in the church) indicates otherwise. When a pope, a pastor or any other man, tries to take the position of Christ in the church, and get the people to submit to him rather than Christ, then he becomes an antichrist. He is ignoring Christ, because it is His position. He thus, is against Christ. They say, "Follow me as I follow Christ." You better watch out. "It is because of my position that you should obey and follow me." You better watch out. "I am God's man, so you should follow me." You better watch out! "I will lead you as Christ leads me." You better watch out! He is trying to take the place of Christ in the church. He wants to be your spiritual authority, your spiritual head. He wants you to commit spiritual adultery with Christ. My wife is submitted to my authority. I am her head, and Christ is my head. How? By my submission to His Word. Your wife should be submitted to you, and you should be submitted to Christ. He is your head. It is wicked for your wife to become your authority, or head. The Scriptures are very clear on that. But, you shouldn't allow anyone else to be the head of your life either. Christ is to be the head of your life. How? By your submission to His Word. If you allow anyone to come between you and Christ, then you are committing spiritual adultery. In their field of authority, you are to submit to teachers, employers, laws, law officers, elders in the church, etc. But, Christ is the head of your life, or should be if you are saved. If Christ has not been the head of your life, then you probably are not saved. How is He your head? By the Scriptures. They are the written Word. The Holy Spirit that lives in you, if you are saved, will guide you to understand His will. Are you submitted to His Word? It's all right to follow a man, or group of men, but is the Word your final authority?
Jesus said that his relationship to the church is similar to a marriage. When I got saved, I repented of my sins and rebellion against God, and submitted myself to the Lord Jesus and His Word as my authority. I remember at the time I thought it was like a marriage, that I was being married to Him. I found out later that the Bible taught this very fact. "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery : but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Eph 5:30-32. Christ is the groom, and we are the Bride, the Bible says. In the Old Testament, we find that God the Father called the nation Israel his wife. However, the Jews got in trouble because they mixed their faith in God with the pagan religions around them. The most popular one was the worship of Baal. Their worship was some kind of combination of Baal worship with the worshipping of God, and so He referred to them as an adulterous wife. "And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce..." Jer 3:8.; "And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that [were] round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth". Judges 2:12,13. Did you know that the word "baal" means lord, possesser, or husband? Yes, the "wife," Israel, left her "husband" God, and chose a new husband, Baal. Likewise, we are the wife of Christ. He is our groom or husband. We should keep ourselves pure, and not commit any kind of spiritual adultery against Christ. "But, to be a good Christian, I always submit and devote myself to the authority of my church, and follow our church constitution and bi-laws." You are committing spiritual adultery against Christ. "I submit to the authority of my pastor, and follow him, because he is "God's man." You are committing spiritual adultery against Christ. Your life should be submitted to Jesus Christ, your Groom. (you do this by submitting yourself to the Scriptures, If ye love me, keep my commandments . He that hath my commandments , (not the constitiution and bi-laws) and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, John 14:15) How about it? Are you a good, chaste, virgin bride to Christ? Come hither, I will shew thee the bride , the Lamb's wife. Yes, the Lamb here is Jesus, and we, the church, are and will be His Bride. Rev. 21:9 The last invitation in the Bible is, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come." Rev 22:17
Proper Leadership in the Church is by the Elders in the ChurchGod has chosen to provide leadership for his saints in the churches by older spiritually mature Christian men in the churches called elders. "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church." (skip to vs. 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." Acts 20:17&28. Paul called the elders (plural) of the church of Ephesus, and says that the Holy Ghost had made them overseers in the church. (No mention of one pastor leading the church of Ephesus.) These were not men of the clergy, but the Holy Spirit had raised them up from among the group to be overseers. Whenever Paul and others led people to the Lord in a certain area, they returned on their next missionary trip (about a year later) and appointed men from the group to be overseers in that local church. Futhermore, in 1 Peter 5:1-3, Peter says , "The elders which are among you (not over you, but among you) I exhort, who am also an elder,...... 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; Neither as being lords over [God's] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock". Here, Peter says that elders are to (1) feed the flock, (2) be overseers, and (3) be examples, not lords. Now, an elder was not the pastor, as many say, but refers to all older Christian men in the church. This is proven in 1 Tim 5:1-2. "Rebuke not an elder, but intreat [him] as a father; [and] the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
Some say this elder in verse one is the pastor, and it may seem that way since it is a singular collective noun. But it can't be, because Paul says after that to, (1) treat younger men as brethren, (2) elder (older) women as mothers, and (3) younger women as sisters. So, where are the older men mentioned? How are you suppose to treat the older men? Did he forget about them? No, when he says rebuke not an elder, he is talking about the group of older men in the church. The word elder here is referring to older men, so you can't say that this word means pastor. This is proven in Paul's same command toTitus. "That the AGED MEN be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. Titus 2:2-6. Paul says "elders" to Timothy and "aged men" to Titus. They are the same. But, how old does a man have to be to be an elder, you may ask? Is there an age given in Scripture for when a male is considered an elder or aged man and not a young man? Yes, there seems to be. Did you know that the Bible seems to indicate that the age is about 30 years old when one becomes a man instead of a young man? The Levites could not begin service in the Temple until they were 30 years of age (Num 4:3,23,30,35,39,43,47). Joseph began his rule under Pharoah at the age of 30 (Gen 41:46), David began his rule as King of Israel at 30 (2 Sam 5:4), and Jesus began His ministry at the age of 30 (Matt 3:23).
Now, not all elders or older men will want to serve in the church. There will no doubt be some that will not be close to the Lord, some that will not want to serve, and others that will not be Scripturally qualified to oversee the church. But, they are still elders. However, the Holy Spirit will separate some of the qualified elders in the church, (over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, Acts 20:28) to perform the work of an overseer in the church and give them the desire to do their work. The people in the church recognize this and in turn acknowledge each of these elders as overseers. (And when they had ordained them elders in every church, Acts 14:23) The apostles ordained elders. They were already elders, but these elders were being ordained or appointed as overseers (bishops). So, it seems to me that there are elders in each church that are bishops (overseers) and then there are elders in the church that are not overseers, just "aged men". Qualified elders in the church should be recognized by the church only if Scriptural qualifications are met so that everyone may use them as a pattern or example to follow. "Neither as being lords over [God's] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." 1Pet 5:3. These elders will naturally lead and care for the flock, and others in the church will and should follow these spiritual men. "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good." III John 1:11. The Holy Spirit enables these elders by giving them spiritual gifts necessary to perform their tasks. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, (No more apostles now) secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments , diversities of tongues. [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? . 1Cor. 12:27-31. Notice no mention of pastor here. (gift of pastoring is mentioned in Eph. 4, and overseers had this gift of pastoring). But in the Corinthian church, the Holy Spirit would also enable certain elders to be prophets (forth-tellers that spoke, comforted, encouraged, rebuked, convicted, and stimulated their hearers) and teachers (those who instruct) (We can't include apostles, because nobody today is qualified to be one.) Other gifts were given to them and to others in the church, such as miracles, healings, helps, governments, tongues (speak in other known languages) and interpreters (tongues disappeared during the apostolic age).
Let's take a look at Scriptural authority. Jesus said, "No servant can serve two masters...." Luke 16:13. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH: and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as THE CHURCH IS SUBJECT UNTO CHRIST, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in everything". Eph 5: 23 This says that Christ is the Head of the Church. Man is the head of his wife. "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God". Here you have the major heads, or positions of authority. God over Christ, Christ over man, and man over the woman. (I don't see pastor or even elders here) There are many minor authorities, such as teachers, employers, government officials, church leaders, etc., and we are to obey them in their area of responsibilities, but when their authority conflicts with your major authority, then you have to obey the major authority. You have world order, church order, and home order, each having it's proper authority limited to it's order. The man has only one major authority or head, and that is Christ. The woman has only one head, and that is man. (Husband, or father if not married) Wife is to obey her husband or father, and man is to obey the Lord. Whom will you serve? "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." How do you serve or obey the Lord? Obey the Scriptures. Yes, listen to men, but obey the Scriptures. Let the Scriptures be your Head. Submit yourself to them and you are submitted unto Christ. Whenever you get the smallest inkling that a man wants to be your spiritual head, or trying to be the head of your life, then get away from him. Quick!
So, does this mean we have anarchy in the church; everybody does that which is right in their own eyes? No. There is leadership in the church, and people are to follow their leadership in the church. "Obey them that have the rule (guide) over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you." Heb 13:17 (This is one of the favorite verses held over everyone’s head to get everybody to submit to the position of a pastor) (Notice the word pastor is not mentioned) Here are 3 possible explanations: (1) It is referring to elders and not one pastor, because it says obey THEM that have the rule over you. Submit yourselves; for THEY watch for your souls, as THEY must give an account, that THEY may do it with joy….) (if there had been one man over each church back then, it would have said, obey "him" that has the rule over you. Submit yourselves; for "he" watches for your souls, as "he" must give an account, that "he" may do it with joy.) But, it doesn't say that. It says "they" and "them" (all plural). People in the church are to submit to the elders. Elders are to lead in the services and others are to submit in the services, but the elders are not the Heads. Jesus is the Head.
(2) This verse could also apply to all forms of authority, not just in the church. (It doesn't say church) It can apply to parents, employers, teachers, government, police officers, etc. (The Bible says that even government and civic officials are God's ministers) "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil. For for this cause pay ye tribute (taxes) also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing". Rom. 12. (3 times he is a minister of God)
(3) Lastly, it was written to the scattered Hebrews, so probably included submission to the religious leadership of the Jewish people. The Jews did have a theocracy, being led by religious leaders. Jesus said, "... The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works". Matt 23) Any of the 3 could apply, but I would not want to take this verse written to Jewish Christians and their submission to their authorities (church or secular) and use it to establish pastorial authority in the churches. But, that is what has been done. The verse has been twisted to apply to a pastor. You as a Christian are to submit to all authorities over you, such as: Government leaders, parents, employers, teachers, policemen, church leaders, etc. Many minor authorities, but you only have one Head, and that head is Christ Jesus. You obey all authorities over you, but when they disagree with Christ, then you must obey your head, which is Jesus. And, you obey Him, by obeying the Scriptures.
Interesting Note: Most all letters today sent to churches would include the pastor's name, because of their prominent position in the church. "Reverend John Doe", "Such and Such Church". Did you ever notice that with all the letters to the many different churches in the New Testament, not one was addressed to a pastor or even mentions a pastor. Now Paul was a perfect gentleman, and if each church had a Pastor, then Paul would not have ignored him. But, he didn't have to, because each church that Paul wrote to didn't have one pastor. Paul wrote: "to the church of God which is at Corinth, to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called [to be] saints. And all the brethren which are with me, Unto the churches of Galatia:.(Galatia was a large province), To the saints which are at Ephesus, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse, Unto the church of the Thessalonians, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the BISHOPS and deacons," etc. Now, if churches then were anything like they are today, Paul would be writing to or at least mentioning the Pastor's name. But, he never did address the Pastor of a church. Why? Because they had elders.
Now, some argue that letters are written to a pastor of each church of the Revelations. "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write" But the word is "angel", not "pastor". You will not find the word "pastor", "shepherd", "bishop", or even "elder" in the book of Revelation. (except the ones in Heaven around the throne), The word "angel", however, is mentioned in 74 verses and they refer to real angels, not pastors. All throughout the book of Revelation, the angels carry out the commands of God. "Well, the word "angel" means messenger." So, even if it was a man, it was the messenger to the church that John was writing to. He was a messenger, or a courier, to take the letter to that specific church. To call him the pastor is a gross overstatement. Some believe this anyway, saying that "angel" means "messenger" and "messenger" means "pastor". That is not interpretation. That's twisting the verse to make it say what you want it to say. If God wanted it to mean pastor or messenger, then he would have said pastor or messenger. But, He said angel. Others also argue that 1 & 2 Timothy are Pastoral Epistles written to Timothy, a pastor of the church of Ephesus. Well, they do include material for leaders and qualifications in the churches, but Timothy was not a pastor of the church at Ephesus. (We have already shown that the church at Ephesus had elders. Acts 20.) The Bible doesn't anywhere say that Timothy was a pastor or elder. It says that he was an evangelist. "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." Timothy and Titus and many others were helpers to Paul, or emissaries, and they went abroad spending time at different churches helping to establish them. But, each church, as mentioned before, was served by a group of elders, who remained there after the apostles or emissaries left.
Does the Bible say how elders in a church should behave in a meeting?Look what Paul says about polity in the Corinthian church. (Now, remember that he is writing to them because of chaos and confusion in the church, and he is telling them how they should conduct their services). "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. (Sounds like things are out of hand a little) Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be] by two, or at the most [by] three, and [that] by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If [any thing] be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints". 1 Cor 14: 26-33. Could these "prophets" be the preachers, bishops or elders? I think so. They were men in the assemblies of Christians that were moved by the Holy Spirit to stand and speak, having power to instruct, comfort, encourage, rebuke, convict, and stimulate their hearers. Today, we call them the pastor or the preacher. But, look at verse 29 where it says, "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge." Notice, it does not say "one", but two or three. It doesn't say two or more, but two or three. There may be several men in the church, but two or three were to speak at a service being led by the Holy Spirit. While each took his turn, the others were to judge. In today's church, the pastor usually gives the message, but Paul said it was to be by two or three, and each could speak sooner or later. If the early Corinthian church had only one pastor, then why didn't Paul just say in order to do away with the confusion, let the pastor take charge and tell everyone else what to do? He didn't because there wasn't just one man in charge. (You disagree? Well, then show me in the Bible where there was one man over a church, or a Scripture that says it should be that way) So Paul is setting a pattern in the church to be followed and he says in the last verse of the chapter "Let all things be done decently and in order." He also says in verse 37, "If any man (in the Corinthian church) think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord". These are not suggestions by Paul, but commandments of the Lord.
But, you say, if a modern day church was led by a group of men called elders, you would have chaos in the church. Everybody would be trying to take over, and several people of equal authority can't lead in one church. It is much easier, you say, for one man to lead a church. Well, that's true if it is like a business, as most churches have become today. But, churches should not be businesses or operate as such. God did not set them up that way. The church is a spiritual body and should operate as one. The Scriptures clearly teach that a church should be led by the Holy Spirit, who leads a group of mature Christian men in the church, called elders. The Holy Spirit sets them apart for that task, to oversee, to feed the flock, and to set the example. So, there should be liberty in the church for more than one man to speak, teach, exhort, rebuke, etc. (Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.) This is a system of checks and balances that God has put into the church in order to keep out lordship over His church. Now, with one man ruling in a church, you do have a lord or dictator. In most denominational churches, he usually is the pastor, but in other churches, he may be the chairman of the deacons or the most prominent businessman. This makes him head of the church, or the lord, or a "dictator." What he says goes. Now, not all dictators are bad. Dictators in some countries may appear to be good, but they are still dictators. Likewise in the church. He may appear to be a good man, but he is still a dictator, or lord. When only one man rules in a church, he is automatically a dictator. Maybe good, maybe bad, but still a dictator. But, God said there is not to be a lord in the church. (Jesus is the head of the church) There is to be liberty in the church. There must be a plurality of rule in the church. For a democracy, you must have checks and balances. We have it in this country politically and it has worked better than in any other government in history. (Christianity has flourished better here than anywhere else.) ("where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty") We have checks and balances in our country by having three different branches: the Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), and Judicial (Supreme Court). They keep checks and balances on each other. The president is not the "head" or lord of our country. He doesn't rule alone. When he speaks, the other two "judge". When any of the three speak or does something, the other two "judge". They are like overseers. They each must approve. Not one branch can rule and dictate over the country. So, our government is based on Scriptural principles. Now, God has set the church up to run the same way. There can be several elders in a church, but only two or three are to speak (message or lesson). Each is to wait his turn, (might mean waiting until the next meeting), and the others are to judge. " Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge". 1 Cor 14:29. These are the "checks and balances" in the church that will allow the Lord to have liberty in the church. When an elder is wrong, it is the duty of the other elders to correct the wrong before the church. That can and will happen when you have equal authority among the elders. However, that cannot happen with one man, the pastor, the "man of God", ruling in the church. It is unheard of for anyone to correct him. He says that he doesn't have to answer to anyone but God. But, that is not Scriptural. "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all that, others also may fear. I charge [thee] before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." 1 Tim 5:19-21.

The Truth About Tithing - Part 2

Tithing is not a New Testament principle of practice. We determine this by looking into both the Old and New Testaments. In the New Testament, all references to tithing are either referring to the law or to the practice of Old Testament believers. (Matt 23:23; Luke 11:37-44; Heb 7). In the Hebrews 7 reference, the insufficiency of the law is contrasted with New Testament grace. In the Old Testament, the references to tithing were given under the law, which does not apply in the church age.
New covenant teachings are overlooked for old covenant practices, thus limiting both Christian responsibility and freedom due to the church's regulated rules for giving. Christians traditionally give monetary tithes and offerings to the local church. As a result of the rules and obligations of monetary tithing placed upon Christians, some find that they are in the unfortunate position of not being able to fulfill their desire to support those in need.
Ironically, Christians are taught to let the Spirit guide their walk in Christ, yet they are given rules to guide them when it comes to their giving. Goodness and kindness are identifying traits of the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 makes it clear that the fruit of the Spirit cannot be regulated because against such there is no law. Consequently, the old covenant tithing ritual should not be used to govern Spirit-led giving. Today, it is not possible to fully walk in the Spirit in the area of giving, while following modified rules and regulations of old covenant tithing.
All too often tithing Christians accuse other Christians of not obeying the whole Bible simply because they do not give tithes and offerings to a local church. Accusations are made, sometimes with love and sometimes with hostility, (i.e. "Attitude and Accusations of a Baptist pastor" 7/98 CNV) such as, "Do you believe the whole Bible, or just the parts you want to believe?" or, "You will be cursed for robbing God of His tithe." What some people fail to realize is that tithes and offerings, as defined in the Bible, have nothing to do with Christian giving. Neither do old covenant practices have anything to do with the call of Christians to love one another. Tithes and offerings have a purpose for those under the law. According to the Bible, however, supporting one another is handled in a completely different way under the new covenant.
The reason for these articles are not to discourage the church from securing financial support from Christians to support those in need (Acts 2:41-45; 4:32-35; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:1-11). Indeed, the church requires money to support itself and its outreach ministries, and should encourage its local members to provide accordingly. The issues of interest, however, are those involving the method used to collect the money - through monetary tithes and offerings - and its impact on corporate and individual responsibility.
Many people in today's church believe that tithing is the only way to give to the local church and that giving to the local church is the only way to determine their own level of godliness or faith. In fact, some pastors teach that a person's spiritual growth is determined by simply looking at whether or not monetary tithes are given.
The true calling of Christians is, in fact, to focus on giving to those in need. "And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these".(Mk. 12:31). "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Gal 5:14) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." (Gal 6:2) When giving to the needy, one is actually giving unto Jesus (Matt. 25:35-40).
Although the church needs financial support, it should not be at the expense of the needy or sound doctrine. Unfortunately, the problem of careless biblical interpretation has led to traditional giving based on isolated portions of the tithing ritual. Christians in the Bible did not give tithes and offerings
When Christians respond to the will of God in meeting the needs of fellow Christians - as well as others - they are actually giving to the church. Not giving to the "local" church every paycheck should not be confused with not giving to the "living" church.
The priority of Christian giving today revolves around supporting the local church rather than supporting the needy. This limits the spontaneity of the cheerful giver, and keeps the Spirit of Christ within some Christians captive to superficial and unbiblical practices.
Christians are free from the rules of monetary tithes and offerings. Searching God's word reveals that Christians did not tithe anything in the Bible, and therefore, should not be mandated to tithe anything in today's churches. Giving is done freely, liberally, and without strings or human standards attached, thus allowing Christians to mature spiritually.
Non-tithing Christians believe grace giving is "mandatory to support the real church," as opposed to monetary tithes and offerings as being "mandatory to support the four-walled church" (the institutionalized form of church that most Christians attend on a weekly basis). The giving that Christians do for the local church should be the "desire" of the one giving the gift (2 Cor. 9:7) and not a "requirement" of the one receiving the gift based on some measurable standard.
Call Your Giving What It Is.The Bible does not refer to Christian giving as a form of tithing, therefore Christians should not refer to their financial support as tithing either. Instead, the Bible refers to Christian donations as acts of grace or simply, giving (2 Cor. 8:1-7).
If Christians call their giving something other than what it is, someone may apply stipulations where none belong. If the Christian community calls its financial support to the church 'tithing,' someone can and will place additional rules on its giving. As a result, some of the rules and regulations associated with tithing are attached to what should be an act of grace. This is what is happening in today's church. For instance, people who want to give as they have decided in their heart to give are now told they will be cursed for not giving 10 percent of their income to the local church - all because their monetary gifts are called "tithes".
Pastors should not apply old covenant rules and regulations to what should be Spirit-led acts, such as giving to the church. In order to end the confusion surrounding Christian giving, Christians must first stop calling their giving by the name of tithing and call it what it is - grace giving.
When reading that Christians should not tithe, do not assume that it means to stop giving to the Lord or supporting the local church. These two concepts are completely unrelated. The local church is a good work and should continue, but through grace, as led by the Holy Spirit, and with the correct priorities in place. (Excerpted from an introduction to the book "Beyond Tithes & Offerings" by Michael L. Webb & Mitchell T. Webb)
Am I preaching that there is no giving required by Christians today? Does Paul say to the Corinthian Christians, "Hey, you don't have to give any of your finances to support the work of the Kingdom of God"? No! That's not what he says either. There is a balance to be found here. It is called Christian Stewardship! It is not called tithing, and Malachi 3:10 does not apply to us today. Still, giving our finances does apply to us, but it is not to be confused with the tithing law of the Old Testament!
Question: Are we to be governed by the law of the tithe as found in Malachi 3:10? Answer: No! Absolutely not!
Question: Does this mean that we don't have to give our finances to support the ministry of God? Answer: No! Absolutely not! However, the difference is that we have moved from law to grace and from the tenth to the whole!
Let's look at another New Testament passage about the giving of finances to support the work of the Kingdom of God. "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. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Phil. 4:15-20).
You know what's missing from this text? The word "tithe" or "tenth" or any implication thereof. I remember many times hearing preachers' stand in pulpits in financially wealthy churches and say things like, "You can help parachurch ministries with your finances, but your tithe belongs here. If you want to give money to help the poor and needy of India (or Hico for that matter), you may do so with your "offerings" but not your tithes. If you want to give over and above your tithes, then that's okay, but Malachi says that you are to bring all of your tithes into the storehouse, and that is now your local church. So, if you give your tithes anywhere but the local church, you will be, as Malachi says, 'robbing God.' And, if you are robbing God, then you are sinning against Him and His church."
Again, I have to ask, why didn't Paul make this point (or Peter? or John? or James?) If what some modern-day preachers say is correct. And if there was the slightest chance that the Philippian Christians might misunderstand Paul and send their "tithes" to him and thereby sin against God, he would have certainly said to them, "Oh, by the way, I am not talking about your tithes! That belongs to your local church. But, if you want to help my ministry over and above your tithes, then you may." Can you imagine someone like the Apostle Paul-being inspired by the Holy Spirit-accidentally leading people to sin against God? Of course not, and yet he doesn't think it important enough to make this grand distinction between "tithes" and "offerings" that many preachers today do.
Why do you suppose that is? Well, it goes back to the fact that tithing is not the undeniable answer to the issue of financial giving to the work of the Kingdom of God. Of course Paul doesn't make an issue of tithing with them because tithing was not an issue!
How Much of What You Have Belongs to God? The house or apartment that you live in is God's house or apartment. He owns it. The fruit trees in your yard are God's trees. The car you drive is God's car. The clothes you wear are God's clothes. The books on your shelves are God's books. Your swimming pool belongs to God. The computer in your home is God's computer. Your furniture in your home belongs to God. Your business or job that you have belongs to God. Even the very air that you breathe . . . is God's air. You know what else? Your children and your spouse belong to God. Your relatives and your friends belong to God. The driver who cuts you off in traffic belongs to God! Are you being God's good steward in your relationships?
You don't "OWN" anything! You know that? We don't own anything. Think about it for a second. Almost everything that you now "own," your car, your house, your land, even your toothbrush, everything used to belong to someone else. Before you bought your furniture, it belonged to the furniture storeowner. Before you bought the food that you ate this past week, it belonged to the store or restaurant owner. Everything that you would claim to own once belonged to someone else. And, one day, everything you now "own" will be "owned" by someone else. I "own" a little pick-up truck that was owned by at least three people before me. And, if it should keep running, it may be "owned" by three people after me. If it stops running, then it will be owned by someone who "owns" a junkyard. Do you get it?
Think about it; everything that you "own" was "owned" by someone else before you, and it will one day be "owned" by someone after you. But, you will always be God's steward. No one can take that away from you.
You see, no one owned your stewardship before you, and no one will own it after you. It is yours! However, with ownership comes responsibility. The question is "Are you a good or a bad steward of God's things?" You must understand this major point: Ownership is Fleeting, but Stewardship is Forever.
When we get to heaven, God will say to some of His children, "...Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matt. 25:21) What "few" things is He talking about? Your house, your car, your job, your clothes, your money, and your relationships.
Let me ask you a question; Will He say to you: "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with the few things that I gave to you. Come and share your master's happiness!"? Compared to what God owns, even Bill Gates has only a few things! God owns your money. God doesn't just own your physical possessions, he also owns your money. He owns your wallet, or your purse, whichever the case may be. God says, "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts."(Hag. 2:8).
So, the big question is not, "How much of my money should I give to support the Kingdom of God?" But, rather, "How much of God's money that He has made me steward over should I keep (to support me and my family)?"
When God's family members come knocking at your door, a door by the way that belongs to God, how do you respond to them when they come to collect a part of God's harvest that you have been a steward over? Meditate on that for a while.
Giving is an Act of Worship In Phil. 4:18-19 Paul states: "But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus".
When Paul says that the gifts that they sent are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God, he is using Old Testament Temple terminology. He is comparing the gifts that they had given to him (to Paul) to the worship of the Old Testament people when they gave sacrifices to God in the Temple worship. So, when we give to the work of God, we are worshiping God.
Isn't that amazing? God gives us everything. Then, we in turn give only a portion of it back to Him, and God is happy about that! Let me illustrate. If you gave me one hundred dollars, and I then spent $12 of that on a gift for your spouse, or child, what would you think of me? Probably that I was cheap! But, God says, "Isn't that wonderful? I gave my child $100 and he (or she) spent $12 of it on another one of my children." When you give, you are worshiping God.
So, giving your finances to the Lord's work is more than simply a duty or obligation; it is an act of worship. And, Jesus says that we are to worship God with our whole being! He said it this way:
Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
There are some people who have given a tenth of their income to their church for years who have never given a dime to God! For many people, "tithing" is a have-to law, and they perform their "giving" much like paying a bill. If your attitude is that you are "paying your tithe as a bill," then don't kid yourself into thinking that you are giving to God. Some of the Pharisees of Jesus day were doing that, and Jesus called them hypocrites.
People who say that they are good stewards of God's money because they faithfully tithe, I want to ask them, "Why do you tithe?" If they are tithing for the wrong reasons, then they are not practicing Christian stewardship. They may be giving money, but it is as empty as the person who "fasts" with his eye on the clock and his hand on the refrigerator door. Both of these two people, the so-called "faster," and the so-called "tithers" are deceived and fooling themselves. Jesus said that when you do your good deeds to be seen of men so that they will think that you are "spiritual," then you have your reward in full. God will not reward you. Your reward is the praise of men (Matthew 6:2-6).
If you tithe, why do you do it? Are you doing it because the preacher says that it is God's law? In brief, are you doing it for the right or for the wrong reasons?
When we give money to God or to the work of God, we have to determine why we are doing it. If you just give a tithe because it is God's New Testament law, and if it really is God's NT law, then you are being obedient to the law of God, and that's good enough. But, if it isn't God's NT law, and you are doing it just because it is God's Old Testament law, well, obviously, you can see the problem here.
Dispensational churches certainly, for instance, wouldn't teach that you have to observe the dietary laws, but yet teach that the Jewish tax (the tithe-10%) has to be paid.
More examples-"For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law". (Gal 5:3)
Now circumcision was before the law, (Gen 17:10-11) the same as Abraham's tithing, (Gen 14:20) as was the seventh day Sabbath. (Gen 2:2-3)
Therefore, if we, as Christians try and keep the tithing law, the seventh day Sabbath or circumcision "because they were instituted BEFORE the law" we are debtors to do the WHOLE LAW perfectly. If we break any one point we are guilty of all. (James 2:10)
Do you want that? Can you live up to that? Only one man could live up to the law. I thank God for His Son Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Give Willingly and CheerfullyBut this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: (not be forced) for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Cor 9:6-7)
Note these main points from this text:1. You will reap what you sow. Give little, reap little. Give big, reap big.2. Give what you have decided in your heart to give (why doesn't he say 10%? - there is no law of tithe here).3. Do not give reluctantly [as some do, begrudgingly]4. Do not give under compulsion [not be forced by some legalism -- most Christians feel forced to give their 10%],5. God loves a cheerful giver. You cannot be a cheerful giver if, (1) you family is hungry (2) someone has forced you, by a twisting of the Scriptures-i.e. Malachi 3:10--to feel guilty if you don't give. [Portions excerpted from "The Spiritual Discipline of Christian Stewardship" by Rick Walston]
CONCLUSIONI believe many preachers who support the common unscriptural teaching on tithing are simply deceived, having bought the party line without honest questioning. The really sad part about the preachers following after "party line tradition" rather than God's Truth, is that they are depriving well meaning Christians of inherent blessing as a result of giving in grace as one proposeth in his heart. The result of "giving in grace" as opposed to "law tithing" is diverse. This diversity of belief can have severe consequences in the life of a believer---physical and eternal. Physical, in that the believer may be deprived of earthly blessings (benefits) here and now as he awaits the Lord's coming, and eternal in that he may lose the heavenly rewards awarded a good steward.
This is not to mention the danger if the person may begin to believe that tithing is a requirement of salvation as a result of this erroneous teaching.
If "all" the money goes to the storehouse (church when the person has membership) the head honcho (pastor) has stewardship over the finances. The BODY of CHRIST (individual member) is denied the gift of stewardship and the rewards that are promised to the trustworthy ones.
I must also mention that it is possible the pastors that teach OT tithing have little faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to convict a believer to give abundantly. Lack of faith in the Holy Spirit of God leads these "pastors" to resort to placing the believers under their "authority" and back under bondage to the Law of which the Holy Spirit made them free.
Saving souls is done the New Testament way, by the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Why then are finances preached the Old Testament way, by tithing? Are the preachers in search of a "guaranteed" income? You know--the same Spirit works in the heart of a lost person as well as a saved one. If preachers trust the Holy Spirit in the saving of souls, why not in the procurement of finances? Unless--ONE IS MORE IMPORTANT TO THEM THAT THE OTHER.Think about it.

The Truth About Tithing - Part 1

The reason for this article is to show that the present preaching by most pastors on the issue of "tithing" is nothing more than purely polluted presumptions to hold believers in bondage and gain preeminence over ever aspect of their financial resources.
Some of the erroneous teaching adversely affecting the responsibility of Christian giving addressed in this article include:
Christians perform their giving in the 'name' of tithes, offerings and firstfruits
Fear of a curse as motivation for giving
Standard based giving of a 10 percent minimum
The idea that a person's 'righteousness' surpasses that of the Pharisees by out-giving those who are under the law
Financial legalism and its effect on what should be liberal, voluntary, and Spirit-led giving
It is hoped that this article will discern to the reader the biblical truths surrounding the responsibility of Christian giving.
There are those who accuse Christians of error that hold to the belief that the Old Testament ordinance of 10% tithing is not valid for New Testament Believers. The accusations hurled at these Christians are that the "only" reason for this belief they claim to hold is to justify themselves from returning to God less than a tithe (tenth) of their income. The saddest excuse of all, it is said of these selfish, disobedient Christians who walk out of fellowship with God, is their claim that: "We're not under Law now, but under grace."
An article in David Cloud's O Timothy Computer Library, titled "Grace and Tithing" written by Franklin G. Huling- resorts to "speculations" and "presumptions" to inaccurately connect Bible verses to his claim of New Testament percentages. He writes in his article subtitled, "Disgraceful Excuses": "In another connection, the Apostle Paul writes, 'I would not have you to be ignorant brethren.' (I Thess. 4:13). And the Apostle Peter sorrowfully says of some, 'they willingly are ignorant' (II Peter 3:5). We wonder if these statements do not have an application to those who say that tithing is of the Law, and not according to grace"
Peter writes the second epistle to stir up the believer's minds by way of remembrance that they may be mindful of the words of prophecy. By the word of God, Peter goes back to the dependability and stability of God's word as demonstrated in creation. He tells of scoffers who will come, who are willingly ignorant of these teachings. (2 Peter 3:5) These scoffers doubt God's Word because things go on just as they did for centuries. Peter reassures believers that God is not slack concerning His promise of His return. God's time is not our time. The day of the Lord "will" come. We have the Apostle's (eyewitness) reports and the "more sure word of prophecy". (2 Peter 2 19)
1Thes 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (KJV)
DO YOU SEE A TITHING CONNECTION IN THE TWO VERSES OFFERED BY CLOUD? (What he publishes in his computer library he affirms) Don't preachers think we will search the scriptures to see if what they say (imply) is true?
It is claimed that God instituted the "tithe" long (400 years) before God brought the children of Israel under the covenant of the Law of Moses. Therefore, since the "tithe" preceded the Law of Moses it is still relevant (instituted) in the New Covenant.
Concerning this claim of strict obedience to a law, or ordinance that precedes the Law of Moses, consider the Seventh Day Sabbath. The Sabbath was instituted during creation week. (Gen 2:2-3) If it can be claimed that the "tithe" is binding in the New Testament because it is a pre-law ordinance, should it not also hold true to the Seventh Day Sabbath? Why don't the percentage preachers attempt to put believers back into bondage, "all the way"?
We all know that Abraham gave to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, "tithes of all" (Gen.14:20). Many proponents of New Testament tithing are using this verse to "prove" tithing is valid (as some "eternal principle") for the church today, because Abraham, the father of our faith, established the principle. Abraham gave 10% to the priest. Abraham gave from the spoils he repossessed from the enemy kings. Abraham gave the remaining 90% to those to whom the goods belonged in the first place. Abraham gave only once in his lifetime (as far as the Bible recorded). Abraham had not touched his own property or income (he was exceedingly wealthy).
Gen 28:22 is another favorite verse New Testament "tithing" proponents use to support pre-law tithing. Jacob pledged the Lord his life and a tenth of all possessions that would become his along the way. But he made this promise conditional: If God would remain with him, keep him in the way, and bring him safely home again, he would carry out his part of the pledge
David Clouds says, "The second tither of record in God's Word is Jacob, grandson of Abraham, and also under grace. A Bible teacher friend of mine, after explaining the gracious promises that God made to Jacob, would quote Jacob's vow to God, "I will surely give the tenth unto Thee." (Gen. 28:22) Then he would say, 'You think Jacob was niggardly. But how many of you, who have all the blessings of salvation by grace, are so mean that you do not pay back to God even the tenth!'"
You see, this is NOT my argument. I do not claim that New Testament believers should not give back to God as he prospered, and as we purpose in our hearts. New Testament believers should "give liberally" as the grace of God purposeth them. My argument is that the verses used by these tithing proponents are invalid. They are clearly taken out of context. As I said in the Baptist Brideism article in last month's newsletter, the scripture referenced to support this inaccuracy is nowhere close to the interpretation as determined by the proponents.
2 Cor 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (KJV)
Now-do we give according to the Old Covenant tithe as one under the Law, or do we give as we purposeth in our heart as a New Covenant believer under grace? Yes, Christians should support the preacher, (1 Cor 9:9-14) but we are not told to give a "tithe" (tenth). As we purposeth in our heart can be various amounts, more or less.
Yeah-these preachers forget that we are Christians-believers of the gospel of Christ. We are made a new creature. We are born again. God in His mercy, through His Son Jesus Christ took us out from under the Law of sin and death.
Rom 4:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: (KJV)
Rom 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. (KJV
I am consistent in my beliefs as God reveals His Truth to me through His Word. I don't believe according to "sister churches" or a "fellowship of pastors". I believe by God's Word.
David Cloud says: "Because tithing was commanded by the Law is nothing against tithing. Those who distort the truth about grace by saying that tithing is not for the Christian, because tithing was included in the Law, if they were consistent would think that a Christian is under no obligation to love God, or not to steal, or not to commit adultery, because they are all commandments of the Law! Of course such an idea is ridiculous, and so is the objection to God's tithing plan. God's purpose of grace is explained in Romans 8:4, "That the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Tithing was right before the Law; tithing was right under the Law; and tithing is still right after the Law".
Preachers love to suggest that those of us who believe the truth of Christian giving as a result of grace, also believe the arrogance of their presumptuous claim that we can "live like hell" and still go to heaven. David Cloud says: "Graceless believers in grace need to have the 'Law' put on them!"
If we do not obey from the "heart", but by "law", we are still lost in our sins. Does Cloud want to put "grace givers" back under the Law so as to condemn us to hell?
Cloud says: "And those who want to do what is right, and follow God's plan, will have grace to tithe, because they 'walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit'."
Christians will have grace to "give", but they are not commanded to "tithe". Pastors who want to do what is right will study to rightly divide the word of truth and end this fraudulent teaching.Bring the whole tithe… "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows" (Malachi 3:10).
Here we have the tithing teachers' favorite verse in the whole Bible. On this verse they hang most of their doctrine. But if we take a close look at the verse, we will find something very interesting.
"And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse" (Nehemiah 10:38).
[Note: The word 'storehouse' is translated as 'treasure house' in the KJV. The Hebrew is the same in both Nehemiah and Malachi, outsair, meaning a treasure or a store house. ]
Mal 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. (KJV)
Mal 3:9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. (KJV)
The tithe payable by the Levites, not the tithes payable by the people. Malachi is not rebuking the people, he is rebuking the Levites.
When our modern day tithing teachers point this verse at the people, they are really pointing at themselves --except that most of them refuse to accept this teaching, let alone teach their congregation this Biblical Truth.
Num 18:20 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. (KJV)
Num 18:21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. (KJV)
The Levites, in turn, were to give a tithe of their tithe, to provide for the priests. All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. The priests were to receive the best tenth of the Levites tithe.
Num 18:24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. (KJV)
Num 18:25 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (KJV)
Num 18:26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering (the best tenth to be given to the Levite Priests) of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe. (KJV)
Num 18:27 And this your heave offering (best tenth) shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress. (KJV)
Num 18:28 Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD's heave offering to Aaron the priest. (KJV)
Num 18:29 Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. (KJV)
Num 18:30 Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress. (KJV)
Num 18:31 And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation. (KJV)
Num 18:32 And ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, when ye have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall ye pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest ye die. (KJV) Mal 1:6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? (KJV)
Mal 1:7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. (KJV)
Mal 1:8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. (KJV)
The Levites (those who minister for the people in the Temple: i.e. the modern day pastors as claimed by the pastors) was not offering a heave (best) offering to the High Priests. The Levites were giving the blemished (worse part) of the increase to the Temple Priests. They were not good stewards of the goods God entrusted to them.
Today there is no equivalent of a High Priest. Jesus Christ is the High Priest of all True Believers today. (Heb. 2:17-18; 3:1-2)
Those who claim an equivalent of the Levites today, (pastors) are the ones whom Malachi is rebuking. Malachi is not rebuking the "people", he is rebuking the "Levites"(pastors)
The only ones ever authorized to receive tithes were the Levites. Ever since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., it has been impossible to keep the tithing law. Today, Orthodox Jews do not tithe. No one is qualified to receive tithes now that the priesthood and temple are gone.
WHY? Because the sacrifice that must have been offered daily has been accomplished "once and for all" ( Heb. 10:11-13; Heb. 7:27.) There is no more work for the Levite in the administering of offerings. Why do Christians need to give offerings? Why do Christians need to offer heave offerings, burnt, freewill, meat, drink and even peace offerings? Has not Christ made peace through the blood of His cross? (Col 1:20)
Christ, "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;" (Eph 2:15)
"And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:" (Eph 2:16)
The Temple rituals are gone the way of the cross, and so have tithes and offerings.
Under a curse… If you want to understand the book of Malachi, read Malachi 4:4, "Remember the Law of Moses…" That is the whole thrust of Malachi.
But we do not live under the Law, we live under the grace provided in Jesus Christ. If you choose to submit yourself to even part of the Law of Moses, you have a problem.
For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them" (Galatians 3:10).
If you choose to place yourself under the works of the Law, you are under a curse for the simple reason that you cannot keep the Law of Moses. Your fallen, sinful nature will see to that.
The purpose of the Law is to act as our tutor, or "school master", to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24).
Tithes are 'Corban' And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. (Mark 7:9-13) (KJV)
If you have money your family needs, but you withhold it from them in order to pay it to the church as 'tithes', you are doing exactly what the Pharisees did. You are saying your money is "Corban" and Jesus taught that by doing so you were invalidating the Word of God.
LIBERTY not BONDAGEFolks-we are under the perfect law of liberty.(2 Cor 3:17; James 2:12 and many more verses) We are "not" told how much to give. We are "not" told where to worship, or when. (John 4:20-25) We "are" told to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, (Heb 10:25) but we are "not" told how often to assemble. We are "not" told how often to celebrate the Lord's Supper. We are "not" told that Christ instituted a "new" Sabbath (replaced the seventh day Sabbath with the Lord's Day) (Sunday) as many Baptist preachers teach. We are "not" told we must be in church (assemble ourselves together) every time the church doors open. We are "not" told all of our Christian giving must go "only to the church where we are members".