Saturday, August 9, 2008

Who are the Teachers and Why

Where in the New Testament are we taught that we need a "man of God" or a "covering" in order to serve God in what we are called to do. I began doing a word search of the New Testament on teachers, pastors, overseers and leaders to see what the Bible had to say about these things.

Overall, the New Testament teaches that we are all the "body of Christ". It does not teach that we are all a bunch of little bodies under many coverings and that there are separate "men of God" that are ordained to "speak into our lives" or "receive the Word of God for us". It does not teach us to slander or criticize others in the body of Christ because they are not as "spiritually knowledgeable" as others. It does not even teach us to go to a "church building" and sit under the "pastor" there in order to receive from God. There are many other practices that the New Testament does not teach. I have decided to focus on what it does teach and only that. If I can't find it in the Bible, then I am not interested.

In Hebrews 10:24-25, the Bible tells us not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves together". The New Living Translation says it like this, "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." I see here that it is not telling us to go and sit and listen to a preacher tell us how to get blessed, get more money, serve that particular ministry leader, or stretch our faith to get things for ourselves. This passage tells us to be about doing acts of love and good works which has nothing to do with getting something for ourselves. It also doesn't tell us that we have to be in a formal church building to do this.

There is nothing wrong with going to church. I believe that going to church is very important, but there is also nothing wrong with meeting with each other outside of the church. It also doesn't tell us that we have to join a particular church so we can be "under" a particular man of God. We joined "The Church" when we asked Jesus into our hearts and made him the Lord of our lives, and Jesus is our man of God, our advocate, our "covering". There is nothing wrong with joining a church. It helps us come to know other believers and become active in ministry. It gives us a local "body of believers" to stand with us and fellowship with. The problem comes in when a local church teaches that it is the only church with right teaching and that other churches are wrong, dumb and in error. Matthew 6:33 in the NLT says,"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Romans 14:17 NLT tells us that "the Kingdom of God is living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". This is not equivalent to living a life of getting what we are entitled to, or what we believe for, or what we confess from God.

Jesus, himself, said in Matt.23:8-12 said,"Don't let anyone call you 'Rabbi,' for you have only one teacher, and all of you are EQUAL as brothers and sisters. And don't address anyone here on earth as 'Father,' for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don't let anyone call you 'Teacher,' for you have only one teacher, the Messiah." If you are in a church that the pastor there insists or expects you to call him, 'Pastor,' as a title and feels that he is above you in some sort of spiritual rank, then he is wrong. According to Jesus we are all equal. Look for a church with a pastor that sees himself as your brother.

1 John 2:27 NIV says, "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit- just as it has taught you, remain in him." Colossians 3:16 in the amplified says,"Let the word spoken by Christ, the Messiah, have its home in your hearts and minds, and dwell in you in all its richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom (in spiritual things, and as you sing) psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with (His) grace in your hearts." We are supposed to be teaching each other. Everything taught should line up with the entire Bible in every way. If you are in a church that only the "Pastor" teaches on a regular basis and you are encouraged not to visit other churches "ever" and not to listen to anyone other than those that he personally endorses, this is a warning sign. If this Pastor is teaching predominately out of the Old Testament and pulling isolated scriptures out and building teachings around them, then you need to look in your Bible and see if they line up with New Testament teachings. If you have trouble making sure these teachings are totally correct, then find another church.

The Bible stated some requirements for those who would be leaders in the church. The Message translation 1Timothy3:1-7 says,"If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he's talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God's church? He must not be a new believer, lest the position go to his head and the Devil trip him up. Outsiders must think well of him, or else the Devil will figure out a way to lure him into his trap". These preconditions are not just suggestions... they are requirements, and not just some of them, but all of them.

Here are some questions for you to answer:
Is your pastor well thought of by outsiders?......Committed to his wife?......Cool and collected?.....Accessible?.....Hospitable?....Does he know what he is talking about? Are you sure?....Is his life public enough for you to even know if he drinks wine?....Is he gentle?.....Does every criticism get to him (is he thin-skinned)?..... Is he money-hungry? Is money mentioned in every service? Are you taught to give more to get what you need or desire from God?

If the pastor of the church you are attending does not line up with these things clearly spelled out preconditions in the Bible then you need to find another church.

A pastor's life should be a public life, not a secret life. Many people in the church should be involved in the workings and decisions of the church. Not just the pastor, his family and his hand picked "board". The church should not be a dictatorship.

The pulpit should not be used for a personal agenda or to criticize people or other churches. The church should have evidence and fruit of acts of love and good works, (this is not just teaching those attending how to get what they want from God).

Let's think for ourselves, hear from God ourselves, ask questions, require accountability and examine the "work of God" that we are involved in. Let's get on with God's business and quit focusing on our business.


Anonymous said...

You have done your research! I think you are really on to something. I noticed in Acts that it talks about meeting from house to house. In our former church small home fellowship groups were frowned upon. I always wondered why. I think I figured out that the church was afraid for people to get together and talk to each other for fear that people would figure things out. I like to go to church and be with people and I like to worship with the music, but I don't like it when people use the pulpit for their own agenda. I don't like it when people take something and twist it so you will see it their way. Where is the teaching about the cross and what Jesus did for us, and His love for us? Why does it seem like some ministries are so focused on money and the blessings you can get? Why does it seem that certain ministers don't really care about the people in their church, but they care about themeselves. Like you said, it is time for people to get their focus back. Have you ever wondered if God is sitting on His throne, scratching His head and saying, "Don't you see that I am not in what you are teaching." I think if people just would read their Bibles they would see what God is interested in. Keep blogging, keep studying, and bringing the light on these things. You are doing a great job.

Anonymous said...

I really like this blog. I liked what you said about how the pulpit should not be used to criticize others. I always thought it was so wrong when people were called names from the pulpit. I would think that anybody, including children, would know that name-calling is wrong.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post!

I know I have had church in my home all by myself!

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...
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Deanna said...

Excellent post! The Body of Christ was meant to function as a family of brothers and sisters, not a corporation with a hierarchy.