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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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