The Authority of the True Church of Christ
The Authority of the True Church of Christ.
The church of Jesus Christ (the body of Christ), being made up of imperfect
people must have some sort of Leadership in order to prevent chaos. Of course
if all of the people involved were perfect they would all hear God perfectly and
there would be no need for leadership. But we all know that is expecting a little
too much and so did God , so He gave us the blueprint for the leadership in His
church when He gave us His word. We need to look to the Word of God for the
pattern in this as with ALL other things pertaining to His church.
The Pattern According to Man
It seems everyone has an opinion about how to run the church. The problem is
most of these opinions are those of men, not of God. We can find an opinion that
will match ours if we look long enough. Most of these opinions have taken
some of their ideas from the second century church, or the jewish temple and on, but we cannot do this we must look at the church that Jesus established with His original apostles, because as in all things, man had corrupted the structure of the church of Jesus Christ by the second century. So, what does God have to say about all these different ways of running His church. The following are the most common forms of church leadership in use today. There are many others not mentioned here but the following list comprises the vast majority of “Christian” churches of today.
The Denominational Model
We will not discuss the “Denominational” model. That of a hierarchy with
several layers of authority and a headquarters somewhere, because scripture
is perfectly clear that the church( there is only one , no matter how many
meeting places they have) is autonomous and is not to be ruled from afar, and
that “Denominations” are not part of the true church of Jesus Christ.
ALL denominations are founded on the unscriptural premise of division. If you
do not believe this go to the local library, find a book on the “christian religions or denominations” and look at why and how they were founded. Of course
there are some groups that are not a part of a denomination that were founded
on division and they are equally abominable in God’s eyes.
True Christians cannot separate (divide) because of disagreement over non
essential doctrinal principles. Separation over essential doctrine is not division, it is a requirement. This is an area that the church must learn to handle scripturally. If we must by scriptural admonition, separate from a person or group, then we cannot continue to recognize them as Christian. Ie: the catholic church , mormon church, jehovah witness and all most other denominations are NOT truly Christian, but most denominations recognize the
catholic church and most other denominations as Christian. If this were true
then they cannot be divided against each other as it violates scripture.
Romans 17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and
offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
1 Cor 1:10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisionsamong you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1 Cor 3:3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and
divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?
1 Cor 11: 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that
there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.
Jude 1:19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having
the Spirit. (NKJ)
The Board with a Pastor Model
This one is so far from the scriptural pattern that anyone who has ever read a
bible can see that it is totally a man made structure. Only those who are referred
to in scripture in a most unfavorable manner will get involved in this. It is truly the situation where we always find those known as hirelings.
The Senior Pastor Model
This seems to be currently the most popular among the churches professing
Christianity. Most of the charismatic, reformation, and many other churches use
this pattern, because most of the groups of this nature that have “bible teaching
schools” teach this as the pattern. In this structure, the assumption is that the
church is to be led by pastors, with one of them being the “senior” or head man.
In other words one MAN in charge with the others following his vision. This
pattern is not found anywhere in scripture. The actual function of this pattern
varies slightly from group to group, but the overall structure remains about the
same. Though the name may make it appear that, it is not a one man show, just question anything that this man is doing or saying and you will quickly see the truth.
This is essentially the same structure as that previously discussed. The major
difference is in the way it is presented, as the actual day to day operation of
both are about the same. One MAN in charge with others following his vision.
The Pastor with Deacons Model
Same structure different names. The only significant difference seem to be
that the “pastor” in this case lets everyone know the full truth up front. HE is in
charge and don’t forget it.
The Eldership with Senior Elder (pastor) Model
Again this is still the same structure as the preceding three. The name gives it
more of the appearance of being scriptural, as the titles used are those of
scripture. Unfortunately in function, this never works as the name would imply.
It is still one man in control and the others following his vision. If one of the
elders hears something different than the senior man does and wants to pursue
it, you will quickly see him branded as rebellious, as only the senior man can
hear God for the group.
The Newest Version, Apostle with Churches Under Him
This is nothing more than an extension of the “senior pastor” model already
discussed above, taken to its usual conclusion it will become another
“denomination”. In effect it is even more abominable than the “senior pastor”
model previously discussed because it removes control of the local church to
some man somewhere else, instead of requiring the local leadership to find
“the mind of Christ for this group” as scripture requires them to do. There is NO
scripture that shows the local church to be anything other than an autonomous
local group of believers. Yes, there is example of the local church looking to
the men responsible for their founding for advice and counsel, even correction
and rebuke as necessary, but not for leadership from some distant place.
The Pattern According to Scripture
The God of the universe Who does everything with such preciseness and infinite detail is not so lax or foolish as to give us a pattern for His church (His Bride, His first love) that is in itself incomplete and in need of us to assume something to understand it. He always gives complete details on things that are important to Him. For example, the Ark of Noah, The Tabernacle in the wilderness, the Ark of the Covenant, The Law of Moses, and there are hundreds of other examples in Scripture. So, let’s look at what Scripture has to say about this very important issue. How and by whom is the church of Jesus Christ to be led.
By it’s very name, the church of Jesus Christ tells us it is His church and that it must be led by Him. This means that there is a “senior” leader, the one and
only, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of the Living God. It is also called the
body of Christ, and we all know that a normal body can only have one head. No
person with more than one head has ever survived to reach adulthood (yes some have been born but they did not live long.). Also as the bride of Christ , scripture allows only one bridegroom for any bride.
This position of Headship is not given to ANY man, it belongs to and is filled
by the one and only Jesus Christ of Nazareth. No one MAN can be the head of
any part of the body of Christ, as this is appointed to elders (plural) anointed
and appointed by Him to serve His people as undershepherds to Him.
1 Cor 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the
head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Eph 1:22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head
over all things to the church,
Eph 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into
Him who is the head— Christ—
Col 1:18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Col 2:10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality
and power. (NKJ)
These scriptures clearly rule out all of the above models with a SENIOR MAN.
The true church leadership is in fact that of The Shepherd with His elders, but
the Shepherd is singular and is Christ alone, while the elders are plural and are
men anointed by and chosen by Him to receive His instructions and then to use them to lead His church where He desires it to go. Contrary to what is commonly taught, There is not one scripture that shows a pastor leading the flock, the only church leadership that the scriptures refer to is the elders. The only other “local ministry” in the church referred to in the scriptures is deacon. The five (four) fold ministry is not about leadership, it is about Servanthood ministry. There are no “positions|” or titles in HIS church, the only titles are brother and sister and all saints ( all of God's people are called saints)are equal. There are however some that have more responsibility than others but that does not elevate them above anyone. In fact they are made lower, as servants. The first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Titus 5 “for this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city, as I commanded you.
1 Tim 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor,
especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.
James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the
church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the
name of the Lord. (NKJ)
There are even elders in heaven, those who work directly under the Lord.
Rev 4:4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones
I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and
they had crowns of gold on their heads. (NKJ)
Deacons: Those who serve the elders and thereby the church in the area of
the natural. They must be spiritual men with the same qualifications as the
elders, but with a different anointing, that of deacon.
1 Tim 3:10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons,
being found blameless.
Acts 6:2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and
said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God
and serve tables. 3.“Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of
good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 “but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the
ministry of the word.” 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose
Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. (NKJ)
The Reason for Multiple Leaders
God is so smart. There is so much protection for the leaders that God has called when they function according to the pattern that HE has given. The above “senior man” situations always evolve into a situation where the “senior man” becomes unteachable – unreachable, he cannot be corrected , after all He is God’s appointed/anointed leader. That is why we have seen so many of these men fall in sin, they have no protection from their natural self man. God never intended for them to be put in this situation.
By having the leadership pattern of scripture in place, no one man is held accountable for the vision- leadership of the local body. By having multiple
leaders, each subject to the Holy Spirit, each subject to the others, it is possible to prepare the leaders for future events, assure proper timing for every command and protect the men from their own carnal self if it should attempt to rise up. I have many times seen a situation where all but one of the elders felt the timing was right, but could not go ahead because of one lone holdout who had not
heard yet from God on the issue. But every time when that last man finally heard God we could see the manifest wisdom of God because the timing was perfect. If one man has an agenda that is not of God, then you can rest assured that it will never come to fruition, as there will never be unanimous agreement among the elders if God is not speaking it. This structure is very difficult to put in place, because the men must have absolute trust in God to be able to speak to each of them. It appears that we are to trust each other to hear God, but if you are dead to self and able to understand the sovernty of God then it is simply a matter of trusting Him to lead His church His way in His time. This pattern WILL NOT work unless the men are all dead to self or at least willing to die completely to their self life.
Oh if only the men called to leadership in the church of Jesus Christ could
understand the necessity of dying to their self life and not caring for the titles,
positions and other signs of leadership and only concern themselves with hearing our one and only senior man, Jesus the Christ, and following His directions for the local body to whom He has given them for this purpose. Servant leadership is what the pattern calls for, and this does not provide the trappings of leadership that carnal men need. We must become spiritual men, who are dead in Christ if we are going to be effective leaders in the end time church of today.
As you can see the above patterns according to man are all founded on the premise of assumption , something must be assumed in order to believe them. If you are or have been have been involved in leadership that does not fit the scriptural pattern, it is not a big deal, if you will repent, change to the scriptural pattern and go on. After all, one of the greatest characteristics of Godly leadership is the ability to make right those things that are wrong, especially if we are responsible for the problem.
May God richly bless you as you follow Him.