Paul, apostle of CHRIST, warned the elders of the early church "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of GOD, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. Acts 20:28-31
Three years of tears while the apostle warned our brothers, sisters and elders day and night that "of your own selves" shall men arise and to take heed and watch. Why are so many utterly failing to apply even more needed vigilance today?
"That government is best which governs least" is exemplified in New Testament Christianity, not what is called church today, but what is in deed the body of Christ we can see in scripture and are to emulate. The body of CHRIST where all believers submit one to another and are ultimately all subject to the headship, SPIRIT and guidance of CHRIST. Man made organizations do more harm than good, are more dangerous than safe and have nothing to do with the apostles' doctrine where the local assemblies were bound by the common faith and voluntarily interacted with and supported one another.
We will endeavor here is to shine a light on error and point to the scriptural solution for a teaching that is no less than antiChrist. It is up to you to prove all things and search the scriptures. If we fail to reject falsehood and instead partake in it, we aid and abet some of the worst offenses against humanity and the creator. Atrocities have been committed and screams of truth suppressed in the name of CHRIST for centuries. GOD'S people are commanded to have nothing to do with this, to come out and be separate. "Come out of her MY people."
Over 2000 years ago, Paul left Titus on an island with a mandate to "Set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders(plural) in every city(singular)." Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23 The New Testament notes at least three times JESUS calling his disciples to him, and saying, "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:25-28(also see Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:25-27) There are no such words nor the concept of a divided body of clergy and laity in the Bible other than the Nicolaitans.
The Bible explicity warns against the doctrine and deeds of the Nicolaitans. JESUS praises the church that hates what He hates. We also see the bad example of Diotrophes who "loved the preeminence." Besides Diotrophes, the apostles named other men who were being corrupted and corrupting such as Demas, Phygelus, Hymenaes, Alexander, Philetus and Hermongenes. Men were trying to make disciples to themselves and not to CHRIST early on. Jude warns us of men that crept in unawares. Thank God the apostles dealt with this for us. If we neglect to heed the scriptures, we dishonor their labor, sacrifices and persecutions to our own peril and the peril of those who are lost and in desperate need of light to find their way.
JESUS alone is worthy. JESUS alone can handle real power. Thus, all power is given unto Him. JESUS warned us "BEWARE of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes and love greetings in the markets, and the higest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers; the same shall receive greater damnation." Luke 20:46-47 Godly men abase themselves and are willing to labor side by side, not loving the premminence, knowing that Jesus called a little child to him to illustrate rank in the Kingdom.
A common error is the teaching that Moses was a type of solo pastor. Moses was a type of CHRIST. We desperately need all gifts in operation but the word pastor is never mentioned once in singular form in the New Testament, KJV. The word pastors, plural, is mentioned one time only. We do need the gift of pastors, but not in the way most churches currently employ it. Each of the local elders in one church per city should be able to serve the body with a unique gifting, depending on what the Lord created them to be and the work the SPIRIT enables them to do. There is no scriptural basis for any one man, save the man, CHRIST JESUS, being exalted in position or rank above the rest of the body, rather equipped to serve. JESUS alone is exalted. He is the head of the church. He is the Saviour of the body. He will not be head in name only, but must function as such. He will not give His glory to another. When the Lord began graciously helping me see and understand the apostles' doctrine for the local assembly, I perceived the the solo pastor system as eclipsing the body's view of the head. The Lord continues to guide into all truth so that now I can more clearly see that the one man system doesn't just eclipse but indeed severs the head.
It would seem that the Lord has worked with and often around the solo pastor system in this last century as saints in the early part of last century struggled to find fellowship with anyone of like precious faith, anyone who even believed the same gospel, anyone who even baptized in the NAME of JESUS CHRIST for the remission of sins. They had what were called "battleship meetings" where basic doctrines of the faith were hammered out and many went their separate ways. However, as we are at least in the "beginning of sorrows" phase of the end of this world and JESUS told us what comes next, we must awaken ourselves and others to the apostles doctrine of ordainining elders(plural) in each local church(singular). With this doctrine not set in order, one could spin their wheels on issues until Jesus returns.
Please don't take anyone's word for it. Study the apostles' doctrine and pattern of church oversight for yourself. Start by searching "elders" versus "pastor" in the New Testament, keeping in mind that the term bishop was chosen by the 47 KJV translators who were all members of the same, state sponsored "church" and is used interchangeably with the word elder.
The ingathering of the harvest where the fields are white and ready but the laborers few, depends on men taking heed continuing stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine which entails "setting in order the things that are wanting." Titus 1:5
A few precautions are that everyone seems to have a different idea of what they call eldership. Many say they do have elders but oftentimes what they mean is that they have some older men who assist(and too often are simply yes men to) the solo pastor. While we desperately need the wisdom of elder men who are in the faith, elders who labor in the word and in doctrine are the scriptural model as opposed to the business model of a solo pastor. Elders are not under anyone but JESUS, nor are they overlords. They are not in subjection to a far away council unknown to the local assembly or any other unsound form of church structure. There is no true accountability when men live hundreds of miles apart and rarely even see one another. The local assembly of saints with face to face, communication and real, local relationships is vital for all who are commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves, so much the more as we see the day approaching.
Regarding the unsound use of titles for and exaltation of men inside what is to be a body of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers -family, not so long ago, even some of the most well known and respected preachers in holiness circles went by brother, even if it was still a sort of title. But now, even the title pastor is being taken up a notch with the use of bishop. One preacher of the Apostolic denomination went so far as to say Acts 2:38 preachers are the "cardinals" of the Apostolic church.
Should a solo pastor and his wife kneel down in front of an outgoing solo pastor and his wife in an ordination ceremony? This is just another example of the dangerous errors that unsound doctrine produces which are contrary to the good fruit of the teachings of the apostles of JESUS CHRIST. The apostle Peter refused men assuming positions in front of him, lifting them up saying "Stand up; I also am a man." Angels refused men assuming positions in front of them, redirecting worship to God. JESUS commanded that we worship GOD alone. There are ministers and their wives living in altered states of reality that could cost them their salvation. JESUS said if possible the very elect would be deceived. We are now entering a phase of the beginning of the end where deception will only intensify. We must watch and pray and care enough to wake up anyone under the deception that JESUS is pleased with levels or hierarchy of any sort in His body that HE prayed would be ONE. At the same time we cannot waste time on those who are blinded and not willing to listen when there are people who will.
A closing thought is that we have so many wonderful things to discover in scripture as well as so many safeguards to practice. Until the doctrine of the rightful headship of JESUS is established and scripturally qualified elders ordained, wheels will spin and souls will be lost. The following portions of scripture allow a glimpse into some of what we might be missing out on in not doing things God's way: I Corinithians 14:29-31 or I Corinithians 14:36 Sirs, we would see Jesus. We must see Jesus. Jesus' church while orderly, doesn't require a liturgy. We have His SPIRIT. And yet, until the false doctrine of hierarchy is addressed, we can not experience the fullness of what JESUS has for us nor experience the joy of the salvation of lost souls to it's fullest.
A final warning -the apostles' doctrine is for the protection and good of all. When we follow the pattern in scripture, it will only work for the betterment of the body as a whole. There is safety in the LORD and walking in His ways. JESUS answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall Deceive Many...if it were possible, to deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." Matthew 24:4-5,24; Revelation 12:9 Satan deceives the WHOLE WORLD. Watch and pray. Let no man deceive you. "And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." Mark 13:37
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42 If book of Acts Christianity is what you hunger for, it is up to you to help make it a reality.
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