| Re: Ascending to the sides of the North.|
"The time is now come that we recover these age old truths and set them into practise so the Christ can finally have a church that is built on his foundations."
I think that this is a true, authentic prophetic declaration. We [ and much more God] will have a pure and spotless bride, where the least of the family of God is esteemed as much as the "greatest", whoever that may be.
We will see the abolishing of the "Priest Class", the Clergy/Laity Heresy. It is from the One Pastor Rule, and the conducting of the "MEETING", that this prideful and destructive spirit gains it's power in the protestant circles.
The "Lords over my people."
"I see it as revealed in Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its placeunless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate."
"Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
16. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth."
The church was never designed to be ruled over by one man, as a Master of Ceremonies. It has always been like a family; with a FATHER, and HIS children.
Without Godly elders though, the church will not be able to survive. These are called, unpaid, non-professionals, not hired, as "THE HIRELING", but Shepherds who will lay their lives down, even for the least of the brethren.
They are always plural and equal in scripture, and Preeminence is forbidden.
9. I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.
10. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
11. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.
John the Apostle writes of a brother who becomes obsessed with his own greatness, as a minister of God. As Satan did, ambition, the twin sister of Pride, drove him to to preeminence. It is the most subtle of deceptions, for you are sure it is only you worthy of such a role.
"For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.
28."Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
29."I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
30. and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. "
The great Apostle Paul..
Just like Babel; they want to make a name for themselves; to attain to preeminence....all to draw the church away to follow themselves.
The true ministry of a Pastor, is to watch out for the so called modern Pastor!
31."Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
The true Pastor 1.FEEDS THE CHURCH OF GOD.
2.PROTECTS THE CHURCH OF GOD.
3. MANIFESTS THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS OF NAZARETH IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES SO THAT THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST IS NOT QUENCHED IN THE COMMUNITY, OR THE MEETING.
Masters are the modern PASTOR.
"But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10.Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11.But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant."
The whole body are the offspring; brothers and sisters united under a Father, and equal in His love.
Beware of any man who would usurp this.
| 2010/4/12 7:23|
| Re: |
The bible deliberately intertwines doctrine into the unfolding of events and letters to living people according to actual situations and issues. That affords the counsel of the Holy Spirit. We are too lazy to go into the prayer closet until we have the answer. How did Paul get all his doctrine? By revelation out of a living relationship, in the prayer closet, in tears and desperation.
That's my point. We don't have enough pastors doing this.
The fivefold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers can go beyond the bounds of a local fellowship. In God's economy it is counterbalanced by the order of a local fellowship with elders and deacons. For the carnal man, this would mean fierce competition, but for the spriritual body of Christ it brings a wonderful balance. This can only happen if we totally submit to the headship of Christ and this is where the real problem is: Many pastors would never admit it, but they do in fact contest the headship of Christ and claim it partly for themselves.
I think our argument is a chicken or egg kind of thing. I'm saying egg and you're saying chicken. Either way we want our churches Spirit led.
| 2010/4/12 7:32||Profile|
| Re: The Problem of the Modern Pastoral Role|
I thought this brief excerpt from Philip Schaff might shed some light on the subject.
From History of the Christian Church by Philip Schaff:
J.B. Lightfoot begins his valuable discussion on the Christian ministry with this broad and liberal statement: "The kingdom of Christ, not being a kingdom of this world, is not limited by the restrictions which fetter other societies, political or religious. It is in the fullest sense free, comprehensive, universal. It displays this character, not only in the acceptance of all comers who seek admission, irrespective of race or caste or sex, but also in the instruction and treatment of those who are already its members. It has no sacred days or seasons, no special sanctuaries, because every time and every place alike are holy. Above all it has no sacerdotal system. It interposes no sacrificial tribe or class between God and man, by whose intervention alone God is reconciled and man forgiven. Each individual member holds personal communion with the Divine Head. To Him immediately he is responsible, and from Him directly he obtains pardon and draws strength."
While we must deny a divine right and perpetual obligation to any peculiar form of government as far as it departs from the simple principles of the New Testament...the most that can be said is, that the apostolic age contains fruitful germs for various ecclesiastical organizations subsequently developed, but none of them can claim divine authority except for the gospel ministry, which is common to all. Dean Stanley asserts that no existing church can find any pattern or platform of its government in the first century, and thus strongly contrasts the apostolic and post-apostolic organizations (l.c.): "It is certain that the officers of the apostolical or of any subsequent church, were not part of the original institution of the Founder of our religion; that of Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon; of Metropolitan, Patriarch, and Pope, there is not the shadow of a trace in the four Gospels. It is certain that they arose gradually out of the preexisting institutions either of the Jewish synagogue, or of the Roman empire, or of the Greek municipalities, or under the pressure of local emergencies. It is certain that throughout the first century, and for the first years of the second, that is, through the later chapters of the Acts, the Apostolical Epistles, and the writings of Clement and Hermas. Bishop and Presbyter were convertible terms, and that the body of men so-called were the rulers-so far as any permanent rulers existed-of the early church. It is certain that, as the necessities of the time demanded, first at Jerusalem, then in Asia Minor, the elevation of one Presbyter above the rest by the almost universal law, which even in republics engenders a monarchial element, the word Bishop gradually changed its meaning, and by the middle of the second century became restricted to the chief Presbyter of the locality.Bishop Lightfoot states, "The episcopate (Bishoprick or Pastorate) was formed,not out of the apostolic order by localization, but out of the presbyterial by elevation; and the title, which originally was common to all, came at length to be appropriated to the chief among them."
It is certain that in no instance were the apostles called Bishops in any other sense than they were equally called Presbyters and Deacons. It is certain that in no instance before the beginning of the third century the title or function of the Pagan or Jewish priesthood is applied to the Christian pastors .... It is as sure that nothing like modern Episcopacy existed before the close of the first century as it is that nothing like modern Presbyterianism existed after the beginning of the second. That which was once the Gordian knot of theologians has at least in this instance been untied, not by the sword of persecution, but by the patient unravelment of scholarships."
The idea and institution of a special priesthood, distinct from the body of the people, with the accompanying notion of sacrifice and altar, passed imperceptibly from Jewish and heathen reminiscences and analogies into the Christian church. The majority of Jewish converts adhered tenaciously to the Mosaic institutions and rites, and a considerable part never fully attained to the height of spiritual freedom proclaimed by Paul, or soon fell away from it. He opposed legalistic and ceremonial tendencies in Galatia and Corinth; and although sacerdotalism does not appear among the errors of his Judaizing opponents, the Levitical priesthood, with its three ranks of high-priest, priest, and Levite, naturally furnished an analogy for the threefold ministry of bishop, priest, and deacon, and came to be regarded as typical of it. Still less could the Gentile Christians, as a body, at once emancipate themselves from their traditional notions of priesthood, altar,and sacrifice, on which their former religion was based. Whether we regard the change as an apostasy from a higher position attained, or as a reaction of old ideas never fully abandoned, the change is undeniable, and can be traced to the second century. The church could not long occupy the ideal height of the apostolic age, and as the Pentecostal illumination passed away with the death of the apostles, the old reminiscences began to reassert themselves.
In the apostolic church preaching and teaching were not confined to a particular class, but every convert could proclaim the gospel to unbelievers, and every Christian who had the gift could pray and teach and exhort in the congregation. Compare Acts 8:4; 9:27; 13:15; 18:26, 28; Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28; 14:1-6, 31. Even in the Jewish Synagogue the liberty of teaching was enjoyed, and the elder could ask any member of repute, even a stranger, to deliver a discourse on the Scripture lesson (Luke 4:17; Acts 17:2). The New Testament knows no spiritual aristocracy or nobility, but calls all believers "saints" though many fell far short of their vocation. Nor does it recognize a special priesthood in distinction from the people, as mediating between God and the laity. It knows only one high-priest, Jesus Christ, and clearly teaches the universal priesthood, as well as universal kingship, of believers.1 Pet. 2:5, 9; 5:3; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6. Neander,
Lightfoot, Stanley, agree. I add a passage from Hatchs; Bampton Lectures on The Organization of the Early Christian Churches (1881), p. 139: "In earlier times there was a grander faith. For the kingdom of God was a kingdom of priests. Not only the four and twenty elders before the throne, but the innumerable souls of the sanctified upon whom the second death had no power, were kings and priests unto God. Only in that high sense was priesthood predicable of Christian men. For the shadow had passed: the reality had come: the one High Priest of Christianity was Christ." It does this in a far deeper and larger sense than the Old; in a sense, too, which even to this day is not yet fully realized. The entire body of Christians are called "clergy" (klh'roi a peculiar people, the heritage of God.
On the other hand it is equally clear that there was in the apostolic church a ministerial office, instituted by Christ, for the very purpose of raising the mass of believers from infancy and pupilage to independent and immediate intercourse with God, to that prophetic, priestly, and kingly position, which in principle and destination belongs to them all. This work is the gradual process of church history itself, and will not be fully accomplished till the kingdom of glory shall come. But these ministers are nowhere represented as priests in any other sense than Christians generally are priests, with the privilege of a direct access to the throne of grace in the name of their one and eternal high-priest in heaven. Even in the Pastoral Epistles which present the most advanced stage of ecclesiastical organization in the apostolic period, while the teaching, ruling, and pastoral functions of the presbyter-bishops are fully discussed, nothing is said about a sacerdotal function. The Apocalypse, which was written still later, emphatically teaches the universal priesthood and kingship of believers. The apostles themselves never claim or exercise a special priesthood. The sacrifice which all Christians are exhorted to offer is the sacrifice of their person and property to the Lord, and the spiritual sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. In one passage a Christian "altar" is spoken of, in distinction from the Jewish altar of literal and daily sacrifices, but this altar is the cross on which Christ offered himself once and forever for the sins of the world.
After the gradual abatement of the extraordinary spiritual elevation of the apostolic age, which anticipated in its way the ideal condition of the church, the distinction of a regular class of teachers from the laity became more fixed and prominent. This appears first in Ignatius, who, in his high episcopalian spirit, considers the clergy the necessary medium of access for the people to God. "Whoever is within the sanctuary (or altar), is pure; but he who is outside of the sanctuary is not pure; that is, he who does anything without bishop and presbytery and deacon, is not pure in conscience." Yet he nowhere represents the ministry as a sacerdotal office. The Didache calls "the prophets" high-priests, but probably in a spiritual sense. Clement of Rome, in writing to the congregation at Corinth, draws a significant and fruitful parallel between the Christian presiding office and the Levitical priesthood, and uses the expression "layman" as antithetic to high-priest, priests, and Levites. This parallel contains the germ of the whole system of sacerdotalism. But it is at best only an argument by analogy. Tertullian was the first who expressly and directly asserts sacerdotal claims on behalf of the Christian ministry, and calls it "sacerdotium," although he also strongly affirms the universal priesthood of all believers. Cyprian (d. 258) goes still further, and applies all the privileges, duties, and responsibilities of the Aaronic priesthood to the officers of the Christian church, and constantly calls them sacerdotes and sacerdotium. He may therefore be called the proper father of the sacerdotal conception of the Christian ministry as a mediating agency between God and the people. During the third century it became customary to apply the term "priest" directly and exclusively to the Christian ministers especially the bishops. Bishop Lightfoot states, "The episcopate
(Bishoprick or Pastorate) was formed, not out of the apostolic order by localization, but out of the presbyterial by elevation; and the title, which originally was common to all, came at length to be appropriated to the chief among them."
In the same manner the whole ministry, and it alone, was called "clergy," with a double reference to its presidency and its peculiar relation to God. It was distinguished by this name from the Christian people or "laity." Thus the term "clergy," which first signified the lot by which office was assigned (Acts 1:17, 25), then the office itself, then the persons holding that office, was transferred from the Christians generally to the ministers exclusively.
Solemn "ordination" or consecration by the laying on of hands was the form of admission into the "ordo ecclesiasticus" or "sacerdotalis." In this order itself there were again three degrees, "ordines majores," as they were called: the diaconate, the presbyterate, and the episcopate-held to be of divine institution. Under these were the "ordines minores," of later date, from sub-deacon to ostiary, which formed the stepping-stone between the clergy proper and the people.
Thus we find, so early as the third century, the foundations of a complete hierarchy; though a hierarchy of only moral power, and holding no sort of outward control over the conscience. The body of the laity consisted of two classes: the faithful, or the baptized and communicating members, and the catechumens, who were preparing for baptism. Those church members who lived together in one place, formed a church in the narrower sense.
With the exaltation of the clergy appeared the tendency to separate them from secular business, and even from social relations-from marriage, for example-and to represent them, even outwardly, as a caste independent of the people, and devoted exclusively to the service of the sanctuary. They drew their support from the church treasury, which was supplied by voluntary contributions and weekly collections on the Lords Day. After the third century they were forbidden to engage in any secular business, or even to accept any trusteeship. Celibacy was not yet in this period enforced, but left optional. Tertullian, Gregory of Nyssa, and other distinguished church teachers, lived in wedlock, though theoretically preferring the unmarried state. Of an official clerical costume no certain trace appears before the fourth century; and if it came earlier into use, as may have been the case, after the example of the Jewish church, it must have been confined, during the times of persecution, to the actual exercises of worship.
With the growth of this distinction of clergy and laity, however, the idea of the universal priesthood continued from time to time to assert itself: in Irenaeus, for example, and in an eccentric form in the Montanists, who even allowed women to teach publicly in the church. So Tertullian, with whom clerus and laici were at one time familiar expressions, inquires, as the champion of the Montanistic reaction against the Catholic hierarchy: "Are not we laymen priests also?" It is written, he continues: "He hath made us kings and priests (Rev. 1:6). It is the authority of the church alone which has made a distinction between clergy and laity. Where there is no college of ministers, you administer the sacrament, you baptize, you are a priest for yourself alone. And where there are three of you, there is a church, though you be only laymen. For each one lives by his own faith, and there is no respect of persons with God." All, therefore, which the clergy considered peculiar to them, he claimed for the laity as the common sacerdotal privilege of all Christians.
The clergy, according to the precedent of the Old Testament, came to be more and more rigidly distinguished, as a peculiar order, from the body of the laity. The ordination, which was solemnized by the laying on of hands and prayer, with the addition at a later period of an anointing with oil and balsam, marked the formal entrance into the special priesthood, as baptism initiated into the universal priesthood; and, like baptism, it bore an indefeasible character (character indelebilis). By degrees the priestly office assumed the additional distinction of celibacy and of external marks, such as tonsure, and sacerdotal vestments worn at first only during official service, then in every-day life. The idea of the universal priesthood of believers retreated in proportion, though it never passed entirely out of sight, but was from time to time asserted even in this age. Augustine, for example, says, that as all are called Christians on account of their
baptism, so all believers are priests, because they are members of the one High Priest.The progress of the hierarchical principle also encroached gradually upon the rights of the people in the election of their pastors. But in this period it did not as yet entirely suppress them. The lower clergy were chosen by the bishops, the bishops by their colleagues in the province and by the clergy.
| 2010/4/12 7:54||Profile|
| Re: Fathers of Faith|
I wrote the following essay a little bit ago, and believe it speaks, in part, to the subject of what pastoral ministry is supposed to look like. It's not exactly on this topic... but, I offer it for your consideration.
Fathers of Faith
One of the things I am passionate about as a minister, is seeing other Christians become whole-hearted disciples of Jesus Christ, and making sure they are established soundly in the fundamentals of the faith once and for all handed down to the saints. In spite of spending billions of dollars annually on books and other training materials dedicated to this end, it is my discernment that the Church of Jesus Christ has by-in-large failed to do this important task. But such isnt merely my discernment or opinion on the matter. I have also been blessed by the findings of evangelical Christian pollster and sociologist, George Barna, who has been pointing out the facts of these things for a long time in his research.
Not only has the Church failed in its task of making sure every Christian has become established in the fundamentals of the faith, it has also failed to produce many strong and mature Christians. Yet in spite of this heartbreaking thing, the show goes on. We continue to pour billions upon billons of dollars into Christian education, books, seminars, conferences, and training materials. And to what end? What have we gained from it all?
It is my conviction that the last thing we as a Church need is another book, program, or class on how to produce well rounded disciples of Jesus Christ. Rather, it is my conviction that what the Church has the greatest need for today is for men of God who will rise up and be men indeed. What the Church of Jesus Christ needs above all are men God who are truly fathers of the faith. And until such fathers arise and play their proper role in the body of Christ, we will continue to fail at this task.
Crowns of Glory
A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness. (Proverbs 16:31, NASB)
In todays culture, having gray hair is something that is almost considered a shameful thing. Nobody wants to look old. Store shelves are full of hair dye and coloring products to help those who are aging to cover up their gray. Why? Because we have made an idol out of youth. Billions of dollars are spent every year on cosmetics, hair dye, and plastic surgery so that the aging process might be slowed down or somehow reversed. We see nothing glorious about getting older, and thus, do everything in our power to make sure we look and stay young, vibrant, and fresh.
The spirit that is at work in our culture is setting forth a mindset that is ultimately contrary to the mind of Christ. And to observe the Church today, it looks like many within the Church have embraced the spirit of this age as well. Indeed, many of us are very aware of some preachers who are in their fifties and sixties, who by now should show some signs of graying, yet oddly enough, have jet black hair. Its sad to see that even the heralds of our faith have bought into what our culture has embraced. We simply do not want to get older, and forever want to drink from the fountain of youth.
Yet in the Scriptures, as greatly as the strength of youthfulness is celebrated and glorified, a higher esteem is given to having a gray head. As the verse I quoted from Proverbs says, a gray head is viewed as a crown of glory for a man. Why is this? Because, back in the Bible days, the average man did not always live long enough to see the hair on his head turn gray. Often people died at a younger age for a number of reasons.
Whatever the various reasons were, men who lived long enough to see their hair turn gray were highly esteemed and honored individuals. They were individuals who were seen as wise, and masters of life, because they managed to live such a long life span. Indeed, as the proverb says, the gray head that is the crown of glory that adorned an older man was found in the way of righteousness. Such men had lived such a long time, generally speaking, because they were righteous men who did not get caught up in the many follies of youth, follies which often brought a quick end. Discovering and practicing a life of righteousness at a young age, these men lived a long time. Thus, honor was bestowed upon them in the Hebrew culture, out of recognition for this accomplishment. Such men were considered elders, whose lives were deemed worthy of imitation.
Such is not the case in todays society. Indeed, to live to see an old age is expected. No doubt, dying young may happen still due to folly, but generally speaking, living to be sixty and older isnt such a big accomplishment. Indeed, often there is no inherit wisdom accompanying the aged of our society. For in our society, we recognize there are many old fools, whose gray hair is no more glorious of a crown than the paper crowns handed out with Burger King kids meals. With such a mindset then, is it no wonder we seek to hold on forever to our youth?
But this spirit which has permeated the Church has done so at a great cost. As a result of the Church embracing the spirit of this age, we have Christians who have been Christians for ten, twenty, and thirty years, but they have never advanced beyond the ABCs of the faith and pressed on to maturity. They are retarded in their development, and are no different than the old fool that our society has such disdain for. Instead of being a fountain of wisdom and a great source of blessing, many have become great burdens and liabilities, that often cause great trouble because of their old age yet great spiritual immaturity.
Things have not always been this way though. Indeed, there was a time in the history of the Church where newly saved men went from being infants in Christ to fathers of the faith within but a few years. This was before we had Bible colleges, Seminaries, Sunday Schools, PowerPoint presentations, or even a completed New Testament. In Acts we read about how the apostle Paul planted churches, and then within a few years was able to come back to those very same churches, and appoint men as elders in them. We seem to have so many great resources and blessings available to us, yet for all these things we seem to lack what one thing that they had: men of God whose faith and lives can be imitated.
I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would have not many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:14-17)
The apostle Paul with his life and ministry established a means by which the Church might not only grow numerically, but also qualitatively as well. He knew of only one way to produce well nourished disciples, who in turn could produce well nourished disciples. What he did wasnt rocket science, and probably wouldnt make the cover of Christianity Today. What did he do? All the apostle Paul set out to do was to live a life that was in keeping with the gospel message, that followed Jesus Christ fully, and then exhorted other believers to fully follow his example, so that they might do the same.
It was a bold thing for Paul to say: Be imitators of me! He didnt merely say, Follow those areas of my life that are like Jesus, and ignore the rest. Rather, he exhorted believers: Be imitators of me. Paul lived his life in such a radical way, that if he were a book, you could read it from cover to cover, and see Jesus Christ on every page. He walked like Jesus. He talked like Jesus. He handled his finances like Jesus. Everything Paul did was for the sake of the gospel, and as a result, his entire life became so transformed, that to tell Jesus and Paul apart would be an impossible task.
Paul was a man of God if there ever was a man of God. He was truly a father of the faith. He wasnt merely a professional minister, who guarded his life from the flock, so that they couldnt see those private areas where his life and message didnt line up. He realized far from protecting his authority by keeping people at a distance from his private life, that the only authority he had was the degree to which his life matched the gospel message and followed Christ, while allowing others to see how the two were alike.
Paul lived the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that imitation of the Christ life is what gave him authority as a minister. Indeed, this above all other things is what qualified Paul to be an apostle. There are a growing number of people going around today claiming to be modern day apostles. And they base their apostolic credentials on some grand revelation theyve had, their charismatic ability in the pulpit, or because of a personal word of prophecy spoken over them by somebody else who is said to be a so-called apostle or prophet. Yet as great as those things are, none of them measure up to the authority of a man whose life has been so touched by the gospel, that his very life has become the life of Christ. If any man wishes to claim to be an apostle today, let him show me how his life is entirely like Christ's, and I will believe him.
Indeed, to be an apostle means to be one who is sent. But that sent one, isnt merely just some courier or messenger who has some detached relationship from the one who sends him. Rather, the one who is sent fully represents the one who has sent them. The sent one has a seamless identification with the sender. Thus Jesus could say of the apostles, He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Matthew 10:40) This is more than just some abstract theological truth Jesus was preaching. It was a reality He wanted His apostles to embody of Him, just as He had embodied it of the Father. Just as Jesus also said, As the Father has sent Me, so I also send you. (John 20:21) To see Jesus was to see the Father, therefore, anybody claiming to walk in the authority the apostle Paul had must be able to humbly and truthfully say the same thing of themselves. For to see Paul was to see Jesus.
As a side note: It is highly doubtful that so-called modern day apostles such as C. Peter Wagner, and those who are part of his New Apostolic Reformation movement are men who are even close to living up to this standard of what it means to be an apostle. For, to be an apostle is ultimately to be an individual who is truly a father of the faith. It is to be one who so lives their life of faith that they are worthy of complete imitation. So far as I have been exposed to the men involved in this apostolic movement, I have seen nothing of the sort. Indeed, I have seen nothing but men who call themselves apostles, but when tested, are found to be not.
For fathers of the faith are ultimately individuals whose lives we can pattern our own after, and when we have done such, to encourage the next generation of Christians to imitate the same life we saw in these men of God. This is what Paul did in his relationship with Timothy. Paul lived a life of excellence, a life which the young Timothy saw and learned to follow. Thus, Paul could confidently send Timothy in his place to various churches such as at Corinth, Ephesus, and other locations. Because Paul knew Timothy was following the example in Christ that he had modeled for him, he trusted that Timothy could live such an example in front of younger Christians, who would in turn learn to imitate him, and pass his imitation along to others.
What the Church of Jesus Christ needs beyond anything else today, is for men of God to rise up and truly be men of God. We need men who will truly be fathers of the faith. We need men who can humbly stand up, and exhort us to follow them, for they follow Christ. We need men who are willing to be open books, and share their lives with all. We need men who are willing to be naked, exposed, and above all things, who will let us see into every aspect of their life all so that we might see Jesus Christ, and become followers of Him. If we were to do this, the Church of Jesus Christ would become the people God has called it to become.
A Closing Remark
Hopefully, you have found the words of this article challenging and truthful. I pray the Lord awakens you with these words. But I want to be honest and open. As much as I believe this message I have proclaimed to you is the word of the Lord, I must stand before you and confess that what I am preaching is an ideal that I have yet to achieve in my own life. And I say that to my shame. I am not yet a father of faith. I cannot say with Paul, imitate me.
While there are many things in my life that you would do well to follow and imitate, if you ever have the chance to interact with me, I must confess there are some areas in my life that dont always line up with Christ. There are some areas in my life that have are not in full conformity with the image of Christ. Though I am running well in my life of faith, Im still not where I want to be. But I am pressing on, and would like to encourage you to press on with me. Strive for this ideal. For I believe with all of my heart that this ideal is not something that is out of reach for any single one of us. I believe it is something we have all been called to attain to, and that we can attain to it. But we will not attain to it until we take the first step toward that calling, and to do so in faith. Let us be like the apostle Paul, for in doing so, we will become like Christ.
| 2010/4/12 8:11||Profile|
| Re: |
KingJimmy, excellent post. Its very encouraging to see a young man like yourself with such a righteos passion. So many men want to quickly rise up and be pastors, leaders without going through true discipleship. God has an order that many must go through before He trust anyone with HIS sheep and entrust them fully with the gospel (1Thes.2:1-8).
It is also encouraging to see the few men here in this blog understand and truly desire to see God's sheep grow to maturity! Its not just by ONE main man(pastor) that we grow, but by many brethren (especially those who have the 5 main gifts that God uses to mature His Saints), serving the body with whatever gifts God gave us and encouraging each other above all to look to Jesus as our HEAD who we are truly complete in if we have a right relationship with the One who gave His life for us. God Bless you, Saints!
Jimmy, your article reminds me of an article I wrote in 2009.
Here's my post:
Can You Say "Imitate Me?"
I have a deep concern that I feel compel to voice out. Ive been grieved tremendously in what Ive seen among many Christian men. Much that can be seen in churches and Christian forums.
So many men want to rise up quickly and be teachers of the Word. They will spend much time studying the bible and reading other mens teachings so that they can learn to expound on scriptures and teach others. They have much zeal, an earnest desire to teach others. You may ask, what is wrong with that?
My brethren , should we not first have an earnest desire to imitate Christ? To be found blameless before God and men? That there would be no hypocrisy in our teachings to others. Where is the earnest desire of wanting to make my life an example for the flocks to follow?
Paul says, imitate me(1Cor.11:1), I urged you to imitate me (1 Cor.4:16), You became imitators of us and of the Lord
(1Thess.1:6). He was not being boastful, but confident that he was obeying God, taking heed to His commands. He knew he was obeying the Lord in all His commands that he could say with confident, "follow me". There was no hypocrisy in his teachings. What he commands of others to follow Christ in, he has done already. Paul says:
Rom 15:18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient
That is a very sobering verse. Pauls life was not about sharing doctrine through mere words, but what God has worked in him. A holy life lived for God was Pauls doctrine. Christ living through him was what he believe will help the gentiles be obedient to God. It wasnt mainly about teaching His sheep through word, but more about being an example of the power of God's word living in him. Christ in you, the hope of glory! It is Christ living and moving through you that will bring hope to others! It seems that so many Christians are more focus about teaching doctrine to others instead of being an example for the flocks to follow. Its very easy to share your belief than it is to obey what you believe. It will take the death of you to be an example for the sheep to follow. Paul says he dies daily that others may have life. Wow! Now thats real love for His people.
If we say we love Gods people, that we care about their growth then we would be like Paul and die daily so that others may have life. We would want to be an example to the sheep, showing forth our obedience to His word, that the sheep see Christ in us, giving them hope. It is what God has accomplished through me that will help others to be obedient to His teachings. Not just in word, but in deed. May I be found blameless in all that I teach to others!
Let us not be like the Pharisees who teach and command others to obey God, but we are not doing it ourselves. Thats hypocrisy! We are not fit to be teachers if we are not obeying His word.
There is so much teaching and preaching going on, but hardly anyone is showing the life of what they believe and teach. Let us first, desire to be examples of obeying His word, before we want to be teachers. Let us desire to be found blameless and not with hypocrisy, in obedience in what we desire to teach.
Remember what James says about teachers.
Jas 3:1Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
Teachers receive stricter judgement. Teachers should not tell others to do something that they have not done themselves.
It is a fearful thing to be entrusted with the gospel. It should not be taken lightly as so many Christians have been careless in handling His Word.
Power and authority does not come by merely teaching His word. It comes by our obedience to His word. No one can easily rise up and be entrusted with the gospel to preach with power and authority. God will first test you, just like He tested Paul before he was approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel (1Thess.2:1-6).
Many men fear to go through trials, but they do not realize that God test them with those trials. That the trials are there to help us learn to stand firm and not waver on the truth no matter what.
Do you really believe what you preach and teach to others? If you do, it will show in your life. Do you fear God above men? Paul says that if he still pleases man he could not be a bondservant to Christ. If we still please man we will easily add to Gods word, fearing persecution from others. We will compromise His word so that the sword of His word will not come down and bring sepreration with our family, friends, ect
How can we be a bondservant of Christ, to be entrusted with the gospel, if we can allow family, friends, religious people bring doubts about Gods commands, hearing the lie of the evil one say,did God really say that?
Think about how heavy that is to proclaim to be a teacher of His word. If Paul had to go though much testing before He was approved by God to be entrusted with His word, what about us? There is nothing wrong with sharing His word with others through bible study and encouraging and exhorting one another with His Word. However, let us not be quick to rise ourselves up to be teachers of His word while at the same time avoiding the trials that will help us to grow mature and stand firm no matter what. There is an order that God takes us through before He approves us to be teachers and preachers of His Word. Let us fear God in this.
I wish to see men desire more to be examples of what they believe before they teach and command others to obey his Word. There is a seriousness in teaching and preaching Gods Word. It comes with a great cost that I believe many cannot handle because they have not allow the Lord to have His way with them and go through many trials that are needed to refine and conform them to Jesus, instead many run away from trials, not understanding that trials are the very thing God uses to make us more genuine in the faith.
If you really care about Gods sheep and desire to see them come to maturity and obey all His commands then first, be an example for them to follow. Not by words only, but by a life of obedience to His commands.
| 2010/4/12 11:55||Profile|
| Re: |
Here is a part of what the Pilgrim Church by E.H.Broadbent says
"In his last words to the elders of the church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul is describedas sending for them and addressing them as those whom the Holy Spirit had made overseers (Acts 20). The word "elders" is the same as presbyters and the word "overseers" the same as bishops, and the whole passage shows that the two titles referred to the same men, and that there were several such in one church. Ignatius, however, writing some years later after Clement, though he also had known several of the apostles, gives to the bishop a prominence and authority not only unknown in the New Testament b;ut also beyond what was claimed by Clement. Commenting on Acts 20, he says that Paul sent from Miletus to Ephesus and called the bishops and presbyters, thus making two titles out of one discription, and says that they were from Ephesus and neighboring cities, thus obscurring the fact that they were from one church, Ephesus, had several overseers or bishops."
I don't know if this is helpful to anyone but I believe this was kind of the start of One overseer(Pastor, Bishop, presbyter, etc etc) per one church. I like what Zac Poonen says about all this in the Light of Christ. Jesus himself had many disciples but focused a good amount of time preparing only the 12 showing that only One man can only effectively disciple 12 men. Jesus gave of this example for a reason. I hope this help in some way
| 2010/4/12 11:56||Profile|
| Re: Ron Bailey|
If anyone knows of a church, especially in the Houston area, that follows a New Testament pattern, please, let me know.
I don't see brother Ron Bailey much, if at all on the forums anymore. But you may look to contact him. He attends a church that has an open format, along with a plurality of elders. He is one of the elders at that church on top of it. Granted, Ron lives in England, but, I'm sure you could chat to him sometime about it.
| 2010/4/12 12:00||Profile|
| Re: |
Question: What would happen if multitudes of Gods people began to seek out the kind of church, the kind of gathering, we read of in the New Testament
where they gathered in homes, and each one was given liberty under the lordship of the Spirit to participate?
Answer: The church system as we know it would collapse.
Question: Who stands to gain the most from such a thing happening?
Answer: The sheep of Gods pasture, for they would discover what it means to become truly a vital member of the body of Christ instead of just a passive spectator of whats happening up on the stage.
Question: Who stands to lose the most from such a thing happening?
Answer: The pastors, for their bread and butter would be gone.
Question: Who else stands to lose?
Answer: The Bible schools that issue certificates and put these pastors out into the system, for they too would find their bread and butter gone, and would collapse.
Question: Is such a movement, then, likely to be taken kindly by such?
Answer: Sad to say, not likely
even though the sheep of Gods pasture would finally enter into what pastors are supposed to lead them into in the first place.
Question: Is it a likelihood that such a scenario could actually happen?
Answer: It is already beginning to happen. And its going to increase. Its of God. There have been mighty moves of the Spirit of God in times past as God restored truth to His people. We are in the beginnings of another such move.
Advice: To the many pastors out there, most of whom are honourable men who love the Lord and are loved by Him, and are serving Him as best they have been taught: recognize whats at the door, and cooperate with the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Hes the One who is leading His own sheep out. You have been preaching sermons to the sheep for centuries. Is it a strange thing, then, to have come to an hour in which the sheep are restless, are now rising up and wanting to enter into their own? It's YOUR fault: they are just wanting to enter into all the things theyve been taught about! :)
Any true-hearted pastor who loves the sheep of Gods pasture should be rejoicing for the hour that is upon us.
| 2010/4/12 14:17||Profile|
| If we really have the insight - where is the fire?|
Just a friendly thought for us to consider.
If we have the true insight into the genuine, where is the accompanying fire? Elijah could see that the prophets of Baal were in control. A lot of the other prophets hiding in the caves probably had the same insight. The real question is not who can see the error in the false system, but who has the fire of God falling upon their own devotion to the Lord in such a way that those around them are brought to repentance.
Elijah did not just complain that "the prophets of Baal would not permit true worship of the Lord". He prayed in faith, shut up the heavens, brought the entire nation to its knees, and saw God answer his own prayers in a display that brought people to repentance.
Elijah saw more than the false prophets and their false system controlling the people. He saw the power of God by faith and the fire of God as a result. Oh that we would do less analyzing of the situation and more demonstration of the true fire of God in our own lives.
Alan and Dina Martin
| 2010/4/12 14:23||Profile|
| Re: If we really have the insight - where is the fire?|
The real question is not who can see the error in the false system, but who has the fire of God falling upon their own devotion to the Lord in such a way that those around them are brought to repentance.
I agree with you wholeheartedly. And we have the promise of the coming Fire.
"And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon all her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all, the glory shall be a defence (or covering)" (Isa. 4.5).
It's quite something that in the Hebrew (as I have read) it says, "all the Dwelling Place (singular) of Mount Zion, and upon all her assemblies (plural)..."
One Dwelling Place, many assemblies...
Home gatherings at this time perhaps lack this Fire and Presence to a large extent. But the hunger to see this is growing, and I believe there's a conviction that it's not going to be found in the established system.
At the same time, neither will it be found in home gatherings that are content with having in place the correct Biblical form of "church."
By the way, I don't consider all the pastors in the system to be the false prophets of Baal (and I doubt you do either). I know some of them personally. They love the Lord, and are seeking to serve Him as best they can. It's just that they've never been taught anything but the denominational system. And I believe many of them-- at least the ones with a true shepherd's heart-- are going to be part of this "exodus." It may be very costly for them, but I have no doubt they'll pay the price, many of them.
| 2010/4/12 15:37||Profile|