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The Levites: Picture of the NT Saint (Part One)

I have been reading through the Old Testament in my devotional reading and recently went through Deuteronomy.  I was struck by the Levites.  These Jews were selected by God Himself to serve Him in His holy place (Deuteronomy 10:8).  In fact, Yahweh said about the Levites in Numbers 3:12-13 (NKJV):

12 “Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be Mine, 13 because all the firstborn are Mine. On the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast. They shall be Mine: I am the Lord.”

God claimed the Levites for His own.  They were to serve Him and He was to be their portion in the land.  While the other Israelites were to settle into the land of promise and obtain cities and farmland, the Levites, even among their fellow Jews, were to be consecrated unto the Lord.  Outsiders were not allowed into the Lord’s presence (Numbers 3:10) and God was to be the Levites reward for their sanctification.  Numbers 18:20 (NKJV) reads:

Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.

Joshua, after dividing up the land for the Israelites, proclaimed in Joshua 13:33 (NKJV):

But to the tribe of Levi Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel was their inheritance, as He had said to them.

The Open Study Bible gives the following information about the Levites.  Their duties were:

  • Serve the LORD (Deut. 10:8)
  • Serve the priesthood (Num. 3:5-9)
  • Attend the sanctuary duties (Num. 18:3)
  • Distribute the tithe (2 Chronicles 31:11-19)
  • Prepare sacrifices for priests (2 Chronicles 35:10-14)
  • Teach the people (2 Chronicles 17:8-11)
  • Declare the verdicts of Law (Deut. 17:9-11)
  • Protect the king (2 Chronicles 23:2-10)
  • Perform music (1 Chronicles 25:1-7)
  • Precede the army (2 Chronicles 20:19-21, 28)

The Levites were chosen by God’s sovereign choice (Numbers 17:7-11).

As New Testament disciples, we no longer have a special group of people who are priests unto the Lord while we laity are not.  God no longer has a priesthood other than the fact that Jesus Christ is our faithful high priest (Hebrews 4:14).  Jesus stands before a holy God for us and He makes intercession for us (Hebrews 4:15; 7:25).  Jesus rises even above the Levitical priesthood for two main reasons.  First, unlike the Levites, Jesus was absolutely perfect and holy (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15).  Jesus died for us and He didn’t need any blood shed for His forgiveness before God because He never sinned.  Jesus lived a perfect life under the Law and He fulfilled the Law for us (Galatians 3:13-14).  Hebrews 7:24-28 (NKJV) is powerful at this point:

24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.

Notice that the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that the human priests (other than Jesus) have to offer sacrifices for their own sins but not so with Christ.  He was perfect before God and He was able to fulfill Isaiah 53:4-6 and offer Himself to God for our sins.

Secondly, Hebrews 7:4-10 speaks of the Melchizedek priesthood which Jesus fulfilled.  The writer of Hebrews shows that the Melchizedek priesthood was superior to the Levitical priesthood in the foreshadowing of Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20).  Hebrews 7:11-24 speaks of the failure of the Levitical priesthood in that it featured a sinful priest and the priest died but not so with Jesus on either points.  Jesus was perfect and He lives forever (Hebrews 7:21).  Because Jesus lives forever, He is able to make intercession for us forever (Romans 8:34).

While the Levites in the Old Testament were sanctified by God to serve Him, the Lord Jesus was chosen by God to serve Him (1 Peter 1:20).  The writer of Hebrews repeats this over and over again citing Psalm 110:4 four times in the book of Hebrews to stress that the Lord Jesus was chosen by God to serve Him as our faithful high priest.  We now no longer look to earthly priests or temples or holy places or to animal sacrifices for our salvation but we look to our faithful high priest who has done the work of redemption for us.  When Jesus uttered “It is finished” in John 19:30, He was saying that the work of redemption was complete.  The perfect Lamb of God had given His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).  At that very moment, all earthly priests were now done.  Jesus and only Jesus would now be our faithful high priest.

Next we will look at how, through Christ, we are now priests unto God.  All of us.  There are no special priests in the kingdom of God.  There is only Jesus our Savior and faithful high priest who lives to make intercession for the saints of God and there are priests in His house who serve Him.  While we all have different gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7), all of us are equal before the Lord in terms of service unto Him and in terms of being His priests.  This is the wonder of God’s great salvation that He brought about through Christ alone.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/02/2014 at 6:48 PM

Preparing to Leave the Ministry

I wanted to write toward traditional pastors who perhaps are considering leaving the full-time ministry.  How do you begin to do this?

I read a statistic today that 80% of traditional pastors are discouraged and 50% would leave the ministry if they could.  I am one of those who has left the ministry.  I have not left Jesus.  I have not left true ministry (and I am actually doing more now for the kingdom of God than when I was a full-time traditional minister).  I strongly believe in the fundamentals of the gospel and I would stand with my traditional pastor friends in defending orthodoxy.  I believe that we all need to be biblical disciples who love the Word of God and test all things (including our traditions) by the Word of God (1 John 4:1-2).

For now, let me state some basics for leaving the ministry.  Let me begin by pointing out that I am not talking about walking away from Jesus nor from the Church.  I am talking about moving out of dependence on the money of the church toward a “secular” job and away from working in a traditional church.  Let me offer my own insights.

1.  Be Willing To Work

I was not afraid of “getting my hands dirty” when I left the traditional ministry.  I was ready and willing to work any job to provide for my family.  I am the type of man who will do whatever it takes to provide for my wife and children.  Obviously, I am not saying that a man should be sinful in work to provide (selling drugs for example or compromising the gospel to earn money) but I am advocating willing to do any job to provide.  Don’t be so smug as to think that because you went to Bible college or seminary, you shouldn’t have to work at a fast food restaurant or drive a truck for a living.  Be willing to do all things to the glory of God (Colossians 3:17) including dirty jobs.

2.  Be Willing To Wait

My first job out of the ministry was with Coca-Cola.  I had no clue when I got that job that it would open the door for other truck driving jobs.  I left Coke to work for Pepsi (I know they are competitors but it cut my personal vehicle driving in half!).  I left Pepsi to work for US Foodservice.  I left US Foodservice to work for Golden State Foods (GSF).  Along that way was years of waiting.  I would work my jobs (and some with pain more than pleasure) and wait on the Lord to open the next door.  In each case He faithfully guided me and led me every step of the way.  I struggled at times to know His plan or His ways but I trusted Him.  Several times along the way I tried to make jobs work out on my own but the Lord closed those doors each time (I tried to buy a Fed Ex Ground truck route and tried to get a Little Debbie route but failed at both).  I praise God for His faithfulness and for His providence in leading us.

3.  Be Willing To Worship.

No matter where you find yourself after leaving the traditional ministry, be willing to worship God.  We are not saved by going to Bible college or by preaching or by reading theology books or blogs.  We are saved through a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; James 2:14-26).  I have found that my prayer life is now stronger because I don’t carry the burdens of the church.  My Bible study is stronger because I am reading and studying the Bible with an eye on the Lord and not on me or the people.  My witnessing is better because I am not always surrounded by disciples but now with unbelievers.  I feel I am a better man, a better husband, a better father, and a stronger disciple of Christ after leaving the ministry.  I like to say that I left the ministry for the true ministry of the Lord.

However, wherever you find yourself in life, be willing to worship God.  Be willing to worship Him when you have no money and times are hard.  Be willing to worship Him when you get that job promotion and the Lord opens the door for success.  Be willing to worship God in whatever state you find yourself (Philippians 4:11-13).  Worship Him when you feel discouraged.  Worship Him when others doubt your decisions to leave the ministry.  Worship Him when others ridicule your faith in God.  Worship Him when you are struggling to just make ends meet.

4.  Be Willing To Wrestle.

By wrestle I don’t mean physical but spiritual.  Be willing to wrestle in prayer.  Leaving the ministry was the best decision I ever made.  But at first I had to pray a lot.  I had to just pray for food (Matthew 6:11) which was a good thing as I look back.  I had to pray for the Lord to open doors for jobs.  I had to pray for money to come through.  Yet I rejoice that the Lord was using my struggles to help me learn to pray (Luke 11:1).

So often when leaving the ministry, men try to make things work on their own.  Don’t do that.  Depend on the Lord.  Show this in prayer.  Praise Him for the small victories and for His leading.  Pray to Him who knows what you have need of before you ask Him (Matthew 6:8).  I prayed for many things after leaving the ministry including Him moving us away from the area we were in.  He did this and more.  I prayed for Him to open doors for us and close doors for us and He did.  It was not always as I dreamed it would be but He was faithful every step of the way.  Don’t be afraid to pray to our sovereign God and trust Him through it all (Matthew 7:7-11).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/27/2014 at 11:11 AM

The Errors of Multisite Churches

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
– 1 Corinthians 14:26

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
– Hebrews 13:7

I could write an entire series on the errors of the modern clergy-laity driven church.  We could discuss so many aspects of modern church life that is foreign to the Bible but nonetheless, we are so entrenched into our traditions that we believe them to be found in the Bible.  Sort of like the first time someone challenged me to find the “sinner’s prayer” for salvation in the Bible.  I answered about begin saved by faith, justified through faith, believing the gospel, etc.  but they challenged me further to show one person who prayed to receive Christ or who was instructed to pray for salvation.  I was dumfounded trying to find one person in the book of Acts who was saved by simply praying a prayer.

One of the fads in the modern evangelical church in the West are multisite churches.  This has become the new desire, to be large enough to meet on various “campuses” around a city.  One multisite church I looked at on the Internet has 19 “campuses” for people to meet.  Most of these sites are not even in the same states.  I know of a church in my area that is sucking the smaller churches dry with a new site that features a church that is nearly 100 miles away.  At a multisite church, you come in and you watch a screen of the Bible teacher who could be hundreds of miles away.  They count you as being in their church despite never even knowing your name.  I know of a man who died while attending one of these multisite churches and a representative from the mega church showed up to tell the grieving family that the superstar pastor would not be able to be there with them but he was thinking about them in their suffering and trials.  Yeah right.

I honestly don’t get the point of multisite churches other than pride.  Why not just plant another church?

In reality, multisite churches are just another reflection of the error of modern church gatherings in the first place.  Christians today believe that the reason we show up on the Lord’s day is to hear preaching.  This is not true.  Others believe we meet on the Lord’s day to worship God.  This is not true.  Some say that we meet on the Lord’s day to be trained through Sunday school or discipleship classes how to live for the Lord.  Again, not true.

In reality, the Lord’s day was to be a day to meet and eat (1 Corinthians 11:20).  For most disciples of Jesus in the early church, the Lord’s day was a work day.  Most would have worked all day and so they would meet in the evening around a meal with the Lord’s supper being the main focus (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).  Jesus was the Passover Lamb and He was the focus (1 Corinthians 5:7).  The Lord’s supper (as part of the meal and not the Lord’s tiny snack) would focus the disciples upon the Lord Jesus as their hope (1 Peter 1:3).  The focus of the Lords’ supper would be a gospel focus (Mark 14:22-25).

Acts 20:7 speaks of these gatherings.  Notice the verse says, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”  Notice that the disciples gathered to “break bread” which is to eat.  The eating would have been probably on a floor and not around a table.  The custom was to eat with your legs behind you and you facing the others.  In this context, people would have been a family, close-knit, and one in Christ.  You would have people from various ethnic backgrounds and cultures coming together to eat and to fellowship around the Lord’s table.  Rich people would have been on equal footing with the poor (James 2:1-7).

In this context, of eating around the Lord’s table, true fellowship and discipleship would have taken place (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25).

What about preaching?  In the book of Acts, we find preaching only toward the lost.  In fact, the closest thing we have to church gatherings and preaching is Acts 20:7 and here Paul uses this time because he knows that he will not see these saints again.  It also appears that Paul is not preaching here but simply talking.  To preach is to raise ones voice (see Acts 2:14).  I have no problem with bringing the church together for teaching times but one teacher should not take up the Lord’s day.  I find nothing of this in the New Testament.

In 1 Corinthians 14:26 the Bible is clear that one speaker did not dominate the early church.  The idea of one professional Christian telling other Christians is not found in the Bible.  1 Corinthians 14:26 says that each one can offer a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation but the point is to be for the edification of the church or as the ESV says, “building up.”

Now to return to my issue with multisite churches.  First of all, they don’t obey 1 Corinthians 14:26 at all.  Most evangelical churches don’t.  House churches can offer the best place for this to take place.  Small groups (or cell groups) offer the closest thing we have of this biblical practice in the Bible.  However, cell groups often are an extension of the clergy driven church and often are tightly controlled by the traditional church.

Secondly, how can multisite churches (or even large churches for that matter) obey Hebrews 13:7?  How can I imitate the faith of my elders who live 500 miles from me?  How can I see their prayer lives?  How can I imitate their marriage?  How can I learn how they evangelize or study the Bible?  How can I even submit to my elders (Hebrews 13:17)?

This can happen in smaller groups only.  I know that multisite churches would claim this.  But this is not the same as what we find in 1 Corinthians 11 or 1 Corinthians 14.  According to multisite churches, we meet to hear the professional Bible teacher who lives miles from me and doesn’t know me or my name.  We meet to hear him teach and then we meet in small groups to apply what we learn.  Where is this in the New Testament?  How can we take this approach to church meetings and apply this to 1 Corinthians 11 or 14?  We simply cannot.

For more information on this issue, I highly recommend two books.  One is Paul’s Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in Their Cultural Setting by Robert Banks.  The other is  Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity by Frank Viola.  Both are excellent books.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/10/2013 at 1:31 PM

Why Are Many Preachers Pragmatists?

The English dictionary defines pragmatism as follows:

1 : a practical approach to problems and affairs
2 : a doctrine that truth is to be tested by the practical effects of belief

These definitions fit perfectly for my article here.  I want to write about why are many preachers also pragmatists?  The simple answer is that they want to see their churches grow and they believe that programs and being attractive to potential members is important to building a church.  In practical ways, the pragmatic preacher will use whatever tools he can find to build the church.  Whether it is a program based church or music or feel-good series sermons that make people happy and encouraged, the pragmatist will use whatever he can to build the church.  This would also include using people to get to his means.

Much is of course loss when the pragmatist begins to think about how to build the church apart from the means of grace that God has given us in His Word.  Sadly, many clergy are focused on their “jobs” and so they think in terms of money instead of souls.  The church is their business and people coming is their livelihood.  The more people who come to a traditional church, the more you possible can get in money.  Further, people draw more people.  If it is popular to attend church A then people will leave church B for the better programs at A.

In our area, we have two pragmatic churches that are sucking the life out of other churches.  One is a multi-site from a seeker church not even in our community.  People show up at this church to watch a screen of the church that is nearly 100 miles away.  The other church has been using gimmicks such as car giveaways to get people to show up along with “family friendly” church with no preaching on repentance or anything else “negative.”  The results for both of these churches has been tremendous.  Both are considered “cool” churches to attend and people gladly walk around admitting that they attend these churches.

Lost is the glory of God.  Lost is the preaching of the Word.  Lost are the intercessions for the lost.  Lost are the true conversions because of faithful preaching of the gospel.

One could say, “You just are mad that these churches are growing.”  I am not a clergyman so I don’t care per se about the “growth” of the church I attend.  God is sovereign and He will add to His Church whom He wants (Acts 2:47).  But I am upset that these churches are preaching such a watered down “gospel” that is no gospel at all.  Both claim to be “evangelistic” churches with an emphasis on reaching people with the truth of Christ.  Yet their gospel is the “sinner’s prayer” and “Jesus wants to give you a better life than the one you have now.”  They admit that Jesus died for our sins but they gloss over sin and repentance along the way.  They also ignore completely the wrath of God against sin.  Evangelism, in these churches, would be simply inviting people to their church.

Pragmatism reigns among evangelicals because of the hunger to grow the church.  Some men start out right and do desire to see the church grow because they want to see people love Jesus.  But many look around at these two seeker churches above and are drawn to their success.  These churches are exploding.  Building buildings.  Packed on Sunday. Police have to direct traffic to let people in and out of these churches.  Yet the small faithful man of God struggles to get 30 people to attend.  They have to often take second jobs to make ends meet.  This faithful brother has been preaching through the Word verse by verse but people don’t care.  They are leaving him for the seeker church down the street that has the awesome children’s ministry and they even offer a light show during their “worship” service.  The money on the first row of the seeker church will be more than the small church gets that day.  And so the faithful brother struggles.  He wants to see God move.  He wants to see people repent.  Yet he also needs money because he has a family to provide for.  So he begins to investigate the seeker church.  He begins to contemplate how he can model his church after that church.  Soon he is a pragmatist where the results are what matters.

I once e-mailed a large seeker church to debate the “lead pastor” over their church.  I questioned him theologically and asked him to biblically justify his church.  He wrote me back, “We run over 700 on Sunday.  How many do you run?”  That was it.  That was what mattered.  700 people justifies the means.

Sadly, even faithful church conferences today often are pragmatic.  When was the last time you went to a conference and the speaker was from a tiny church in the middle of nowhere?  Most speakers at conferences come from large churches (and often very large).  I remember only once hearing a small church Bible teacher speak at a prayer conference.  He spoke to thousands of people (the most he had ever preached before he said) but his heart burned for prayer (it was a conference focused only on prayer).  This humble man of God broke the hearts of his audience through his faithfulness in his preaching.  He did not come with the numbers but he came with his faithfulness to God.

I urge you to be faithful to God.  Avoid pragmatism.  Seek to be biblical even if everyone else leaves for the seeker church.  If you have to get a job, get a job but be faithful to God.  Don’t compromise His Word for the sake of money.  Don’t copy the seeker church that always ends in shallow theology and false converts.  Be faithful to preach the Word and leave the results to God alone (2 Timothy 4:1-5).  Preach repentance (Acts 2:38).   Preach holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Preach against sin (1 Corinthians 15:34).  Preach on true salvation and what it means to be truly born again (John 3:1-7).  Preach on the glory of God and the glory of the gospel (Romans 1:16-17).  Avoid telling people just what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4) but preach the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).  Preach the Law of God to the lost (1 Timothy 1:8-11) and allow the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin (John 16:8-11).

Be faithful!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/19/2013 at 10:00 AM

The Community Church Or Cool Church Name Phases

Not all “Community Church” churches are bad.  I want to begin there.  There have been many good churches that were community churches but I do want to rant a bit about cool church names and where did the phenomenon of community churches come from.  When I was first saved in 1992, most churches were easy to identify.  My friends went to Temple Baptist Church or Beulah Baptist Church whereas I went to Trinity Assembly of God.  One of my good buddies went to First Church of God (Anderson, IN) while another friend of mine went to West Columbia Bible Fellowship (loosely following Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and Dr. Tony Evans).  In college, my classmates attended churches such as Shandon Baptist Church or Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (PCA) or Christian Life Assembly (AG).

And then the seeker churches came.  First there was the mother of all seeker churches, Willow Creek Community Church and the craze was on.  When Rick Warren released his book, The Purpose Driven Church, churches begin to follow his pattern and name their churches like his, Saddleback Community Church.  The “community church” phase was on.  It didn’t matter if you were Baptist or Lutheran or Assemblies of God, you dropped the name of the denomination in favor of a hidden church, a welcoming church without all the denominational ties.  The church I was saved at, Trinity Assembly of God, became simply, Trinity Church.  In fact, in 1992 the following were the names of the Assembly of God churches in my area:

  • Christian Life Assembly
  • Trinity Assembly
  • Central Assembly of God
  • South Congaree Assembly of God
  • Airport Assembly of God
  • Capital City Assembly of God
  • Northeast Christian Assembly of God
  • New Life Assembly of God

Now let me give you the names of those same churches today:

  • Christian Life Church
  • Trinity Church (East Campus)
  • Central Assembly of God
  • South Congaree Assembly of God
  • Trinity Church (West Campus)
  • Capital City Church
  • Vive Church
  • New Life Community Church

Do you see a trend?

Now the explanation would be that denominations often hinder people from visiting a church.  For instance, a Baptist is likely not to visit an Assembly of God church but they would visit simply a church.  In fact, it might take a bit to actually realize that you are in a Pentecostal church in some of these cases.  When I was first saved, we had a charismatic Southern Baptist church named Forest Drive Baptist Church.  People would visit Forest Drive BC and would often get confused as the heard people speaking in tongues, laying hands on the sick, etc.  Today that same church is named: NorthStar Christian Center.  I believe they left the SBC a number of years ago now.  Either way, the days of denominational tags is gone it seems.

This is not all bad.  After all, Charles Spurgeon’s church was Metropolitan Tabernacle in London and it was, at the time of Spurgeon, the largest evangelical church in the world.  It was a Baptist church but without the Baptist title in the name.  Other famous churches that are without denominational tags but preaching the gospel would be Dr. John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church or Carter Conlon’s Times Square Church.  Neither have Baptist or Pentecostal in their names but both are sound churches.

Yet the phase seems to have really caught on.  The move today is to be a cool name such as Hydro Church, Elevation Church, New Spring Church, Solomon’s Porch, The Potter’s House, Electric Church, Friend Church, etc (all these are real names by the way).  Today’s churches are either just name with church such as Trinity Church or a cool name such as The Plank or a community church such as Wellspring Community Church.  I would like to see a church named “The Only True Church” or “NIV Only Church” or “Seeker Church” or “Confused Church.”

I know I can hear you saying, “What is the big deal?  Who cares what the name of the church is so long as the gospel is being preached?”  I would agree.  And yet I fear that much of the move toward these names has to do more with chasing a method above the gospel.  Sadly, most churches today seem to be driven by money and not the glory of God.  Money makes the church go round and round.  Money means more clergy.  Money means more programs and better equipment.  Money means bigger and better programs than the church down the street.  In my city, we have thousands of churches.  They are all sadly competing with one another for the same several thousand people (despite the fact that thousands upon thousands are unmoved by the titles of the churches or by their programs).  This church down the street is trying to out do that church down the street and so forth and so on.  Money is the goal.

Now this is not true of all.  Again, I am being general here.  Yet I fear that the emphasis is not on the gospel.  If the gospel were the focus, who cares about the name?  Why drop your denomination tag if in fact you are boldly preaching the gospel?  Why go from Northeast Christian Assembly of God to Vive Church?

Thankfully Jesus only has one church.  He is building it and no clergy or denomination can stop that (Matthew 16:18).  Jesus is adding to His Church (Acts 2:47).  Our passion must never be for a church but for the Lord who is Lord of His Church (Colossians 1:15-20).  The true Church is hated by the world (John 15:18-25).  The true Church is not seeking popularity but the prize of Christ (Philippians 3:14-15).  Leonard Ravenhill said, “The early Church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”

A.W. Tozer wrote,

It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments. This has influenced the whole pattern of church life, and even brought into being a new type of church architecture, designed to house the golden calf. So we have the strange anomaly of orthodoxy in creed and heterodoxy in practice. The striped-candy technique has been so fully integrated into our present religious thinking that it is simply taken for granted. Its victims never dream that it is not a part of the teachings of Christ and His apostles. Any objection to the carryings on of our present gold-calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, “But we are winning them!” And winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total committal to Christ? Of course the answer to all these questions is no.

May we get back to loving Jesus and preaching His truth no matter what it cost us.  There are some out there doing this but of far too many are so shallow, so full of hype, and so little with the power and presence of God.  Perhaps we should just name the next church: Ichabod Church (1 Samuel 4:21-22).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/05/2013 at 12:38 PM

Jesus is Lord over His Church

This post will seem like a rant against traditional pastors but that is not the case.  I want to make that clear before I dive into my thoughts.  I know some will feel that I am maligning pastors but this is not the case.  I believe in biblical pastors (Ephesians 4:11) and I believe that God has given godly elders to lead His people (Titus 1:5).

However, have you ever driven by a traditional church and wondered why the pastor alone is the on the church marquee?  Why does his name appear and his only?  Why not include a Sunday school teacher’s name or the little old man who faithfully prays in the prayer room each and every week?  Why not put up a deacon’s name?  Why do traditional churches only put the name of one gifted person’s name on the church sign?

I believe that it is because we have created a culture of pastor worship.  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy hearing godly Bible teachers proclaim His Word and I love to hear a brother who fears God stand up and teach the Word but why do we exalt men?  Why do we take just the pastors (or better shepherds as translated by the ESV in Ephesians 4:11) and elevate them?  This mentality has more in line with the Roman Catholic Church and their exaltation of the Pope then with the New Testament Church.  The Catholics not only exalt the Pope but they exalt the various saints despite the fact that the Bible calls all disciples of Jesus “saints” (see Romans 1:7 or 1 Corinthians 1:2 for examples).  If we are in Christ Jesus, we are saints by virtue of His grace toward us.  We are sanctified in Him (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  I am a saint in Christ.  If you are a true disciple of Jesus, you too are a saint of God.

At times the Protestant Church has traded one pope for a thousand popes.  Each church now has their own pope over them and they heed his voice, do his biding, and he receives money from them.  We have traded in the priesthood of the saints (1 Peter 2:5) in favor of one priest doing our bidding.  This is nothing more than Catholicism on another level.

What is the solution?  The simple answer is to teach that Jesus is Lord over His Church and not any flesh.  Colossians 1:15-20 makes it clear that Jesus is the head over His Church.  Ephesians 5:23 says that Jesus is both the head and the Savior of His Church.  He is in the process of sanctifying His Church by His Word (Ephesians 5:26) so that the Church might be holy bride (Ephesians 5:27).  We need more emphasis on Jesus and less on flesh.  We need Jesus to be on the marquee (if you will) and not the name of one person.

Secondly, we need to emphasize that the Bible never teaches one man to lead the Church.  Peter was not the first pope nor are any others in charge of God’s Church.  The Holy Spirit leads the Church (Acts 13:1-5).  The Bible teaches that elders are to lead but they lead by examples (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Hebrews 13:7, 17).  Elders did not cast visions for the early Church.  We find nothing in the book of Acts to suggest that elders did any thing other than shepherd the flock of God (Acts 20:17-35).  The Lord saved sinners, He added them to His Church (Acts 2:47) and He gave gifted men to lead the Church (Ephesians 4:11) but these gifted folks had a focus and that was to mature the saints that the saints might do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16) and not one person or a group of people.

Lastly, I believe that it takes humility to serve Christ in truth.  I know many pastors would not want their names on the marquees.  They know that this is done because of tradition and not because they are proud and want people to know their names.  However, some pastors are prideful and they find satisfaction not in Jesus but in power and praise of people.  They love the praise of men.  They love for people to almost worship them.  This is of course not true for all but I do know some pastors who are very prideful.  I remember meeting this one man and when I was introduced to him, he corrected the man who introduced us because he had said, “This is brother James” and the man said, “That would be Dr. James to you fellows.”  Okay.  In some churches (and again not all), the pastor is the king, the man with the plan, the main focus, the reason people attend, God’s anointed servant, nearly like Christ.  I say again, we have traded one pope for a thousand popes.

Notice this from Vatican I:

“But since in this very age, in which the salutary efficacy of the apostolic duty is especially required, not a few are found who disparage its authority, We deem it most necessary to assert solemnly the prerogative which the Only-begotten Son of God deigned to enjoin with the highest pastoral office. And so We, adhering faithfully to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God, our Savior, the elevation of the Catholic religion and the salvation of Christian peoples, with the approbation of the sacred Council, teach and explain that the dogma has been divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when carrying out the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised him in blessed Peter, possesses that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith and morals; and so such definitions of the Roman Pontiff of themselves, and not from the consensus of the Church, are irreformable. But if anyone presumes to contradict this definition of Ours, which may God forbid: let him be anathema.” (Vatican Council I, 1870 A.D.)

I know many Protestant pastors like this, men who define doctrine regarding faith or morals.

The answer for us is a desire to place Jesus back as Lord of His Church.  The true Church of God is led by Jesus Christ and not by men.  We need no prophet to speak for God.  We need no pastor to speak for God.  We need His Word alone (2 Timothy 3:15-17).  No doubt godly men (and women) can teach us much from the Word of God through exhortation to the Church as Ephesians 4:11-16 establishes but let us not exalt one person above others.  Let us seek to exalt Christ alone.  He alone is our Savior and Lord and He alone shed His blood so that we could be forgiven in Him.  Our peace with God comes only in Christ and not in a person or an institution (Romans 5:1).  Do bless godly leaders (1 Peter 5:1-4) but always place Jesus as Lord of our lives and over His Church.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/30/2012 at 4:25 PM

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