- Religion and Philosophy
The Authority of the True Church of Christ
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 Hebrew 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 churches professing to be Christian 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 and schism which are strictly forbidden by scripture. 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 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, baptist 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 word elder is used in 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 saints to find “the mind of Christ “ as scripture requires them to do. There is NO scripture that shows the local saints 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 by men and certainly not 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 (the Bride of His Son) 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.
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)
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 anyone in the body of Christ . There are men anointed and appointed by Him to SERVE His people and help bring them to . “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”
Eph 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Scripture says we must be filled with the Holy Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God. The reason for this is that since the Head of the church communicates with us through Him we can only hear from our Head, which is Christ, if we are of one Spirit with Him.
John 3:5-7 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 14:26-27 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
These scriptures clearly rule out all of the above models with a MAN as head.
The true church leadership is in fact that of The Shepherd. The Shepherd is singular and is Christ alone. There are men anointed by and chosen by Him (elders) to receive His instructions from the Holy Spirit and then to use them to serve His church as He desires. Contrary to what is commonly taught, There is not one scripture that shows a pastor leading the flock, in fact there is not even one scripture that shows any man as leader, the only church leadership that the scriptures refer to is the Holy Spirit. 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 to elevate one above another, all ministrie functions call for SERVANT ministers, 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.
The word translated as rule is shown here and does not mean rule over it means labor, practise, stand before as an example of servanthood which elders are called to do.
NT:4291 proistemi (pro-is'-tay-mee); from NT:4253 and NT:2476; to stand before, i.e. (in rank) to preside, or (by implication) to practise:
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 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 Ministries
God is so smart. There is so much protection for the servants 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 pattern of scripture in place, no man is held accountable for the vision- leadership of the local body is by Christ . By having multiple ministries, each subject to the Holy Spirit, and to each other , it is possible to prepare the saints 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. 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 not be agreement if God is not speaking it. This pattern requires men to be dead to self or at least willing to die completely to their self life, that's why they are to be selected by God and not by men.
Oh if only the men called to servanthood 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 authority and only concern themselves with helping the saints to learn to hear our one and only senior man, Jesus the Christ, and follow His directions for His body to do the work of the ministry, to whom He has given them for this purpose. Servant examples is what the pattern calls for, and this does not provide the trappings that carnal men need. We must become spiritual men, who are dead in Christ if we are going to be servants 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 , it is not a big deal, if you will repent, change 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.