Mt. 6:24 π Mt. 15:3 π Mt. 20:25-26 π Lk. 9:23-25 π Jn. 3:3 π Jn. 3:5 π Jn. 10:8 π Jn. 10:27 π Jn. 16:8-11 π Jn. 16:13; 2nd π Rom. 12:2 π 1 Cor. 14:26 π 1 Cor. 15:45 π 2 Cor. 3:6 π Eph. 1:22; 2nd π Eph. 4:4 π Eph. 5:30 π Col. 1:18 π Col. 1:23 π 2 Ths. 2:9-12 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π Heb. 4:9-11 π Jas. 3:15 π Jas. 3:17-18 π Jas. 4:4 π 1 Pet. 2:9 π 1 Pet. 2:25 π Rev. 2:6; 2nd π Rev. 2:15; 2nd
Note: Occasionally I encounter an opportunity to express the truths that God has shown me in this process of unlearning all my "church" stupidities. Jim Baumgaertel has provided me with such an opportunity - and what a wonderful opportunity it is! Jim has asked all the right questions and I hope to give all the truly Biblical answers. Be prepared though - most of the real answers, taken straight from the pages of the Bible, stand in stark opposition to that which we glibly call "Christianity."
But first, let me present these questions to you. Let me encourage you, before you read my answers, take these questions to God and to the pages of the Bible. Your own findings may surprise you. - N.G.
- Should the life of a congregation of Christians revolve around the personality of a man?
- Should human leaders try to be the Holy Spirit in people's lives?
- Should meetings of believers be productions for spectators to watch?
- Who is truly our Pastor? Whose sheep are we?
- Must a Christian Fellowship be operated like a business corporation?
- Is frantic, unrelenting activity necessarily the same thing as Holy Spirit-led ministry?
- Is the Church a human organization or is it the individuals who belong to Jesus and who are called to be in a relationship with each other?
- Should there be a priesthood-class of men over the laity or does the Bible teach the priesthood of all believers?
Again, let me encourage you to seek out the truth for yourself. But if you are ready to read on, then please do so.
Q1: Should the life of a congregation of Christians revolve around the personality of a man?
A: Yes. The Man Christ Jesus. As He is the Head ( Eph. 1:22 , Col. 1:18 ), we are to take all our cues from Him. Since He is a life-giving Spirit ( 1 Cor. 15:45 ), we must be led by His Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, or we will find ourselves wrapped up in tradition, law or apostasy. (see Mt. 15:3 ; 2 Cor. 3:6 ; 2 Ths. 2:9-12 ) Since Christ is "Him who fills all in all" ( Col. 1:23; top ), there is absolutely no room left for the life of a congregation of Christians to revolve around any other man. Any fellowship which does revolve around a single man or a small group of men is led by usurpers of the place of Christ. May God be merciful to their souls.
Q2: Should human leaders try to be the Holy Spirit in people's lives?
A: No. The Holy Spirit is here to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment ( Jn. 16:8-11 ) and to lead us into all truth. ( Jn. 16:13 ) Only as human leaders submit themselves to the work of the Holy Spirit in their own lives first - that is, convicted of their own sin, their need for righteousness and their impending judgment before Christ and led out of the errors and deceptions of their own thinking - are they even capable of being used by the Holy Spirit to lead in these directions. Anyone who attempts to exercise any form of authority over another believer to enforce their own understandings or opinions of the Bible is clearly out of order. ( Mt. 20:25-26 ). In fact, Jesus calls the "clergy" Nicolaitans - a group of individuals whose actions and teachings He hates. ( Rev. 2:6 , 15; top )
Q3: Should meetings of believers be productions for spectators to watch?
A: No. The original church (Greek ekklesia) meetings were held in the homes of believers where everyone was not only free to share, they were expected to share. ( 1 Cor. 14:26 ) There are almost 60 commands in the New Testament to do something to or for one another. Only as these are done by each person in the assembly for every person in the assembly is there any hope that a fellowship may become mature spiritually.
Q4: Who is truly our Pastor? Whose sheep are we?
A: If we have truly received new life from above ( Jn. 3:3 , 5 ), then Christ Jesus is the Shepherd (Pastor - Greek poimena) and Overseer (Elder, Bishop - Greek episkopon) of our souls. ( 1 Pet. 2:25 ) Only then are we able to hear His voice and follow Him. ( Jn. 10:27 ) Those who listen to the hired professional staff - the hirelings, the thieves and robbers in places of man-made but not Christ-ordained authority - are not His sheep. ( Jn. 10:8; top )
Q5: Must a Christian Fellowship be operated like a business corporation?
A: Paul wrote, "Do not be conformed to this world..." ( Rom. 12:2 ) The business corporation is an entity built upon the premises of the god Mammon. It is no wonder that Paul warned, "Some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons..." ( 1 Tim. 4:1 ) The demonic teaching that most "churches" have embraced are the principles of greed and, even where capitalistic efficiency is the motive, the source is still the same. Jesus still says, "You cannot serve two masters... You cannot serve God and Mammon." ( Mt. 6:24; top )
Q6: Is frantic, unrelenting activity necessarily the same thing as Holy Spirit-led ministry?
A: No. In fact, it is the sign that it is anything but the Holy Spirit. James wrote, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." ( Jas. 3:17-18 ) Frantic, unrelenting activity is not peace - it is confusion, a trait which James says is "earthly, sensual, demonic." ( Jas. 3:15; top )
The writer of Hebrews says, "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience." ( Heb. 4:9-11; top ) Anyone who does not enter God's rest, that is, does not cease from his own works, is disobedient and will fall just as surely as the children of Israel fell in the wilderness.
Q7: Is the Church a human organization or is it the individuals who belong to Jesus and who are called to be in a relationship with each other?
A: In the New Testament, the ekklesia, are never said to be like a body, they are said to be the body of Christ (see Eph. 4:4 ; 5:30 for just two examples). Thus the Body is an organism with its Head being Christ and the "nervous system," that which communicates the desires and wishes of the Head to the body, is the Holy Spirit. ( Eph. 1:22 ; Jn. 16:13; top ) As a body, an organism, there can only be unity based on the submission of the body to the head and nervous system. Any entity which works against the function of either the head or the nervous system in our bodies, or which disrupts the unified structure of the body, is called a disease or an invasive trauma. We would be wise to look upon much of that which is practiced as "Christianity" as the same.
Q8: Should there be a priesthood-class of men over the laity or does the Bible teach the priesthood of all believers?
A: The Bible clearly teaches the priesthood of all believers. (see 1 Pet. 2:9 for example) The notion of a clerical hierarchy is not completely foreign to the New Testament though. It is known as Nicolaitanism (Greek conquer or rule over the laity, the people) - a thing which Jesus hates. ( Rev. 2:6 , 15 ) Those who practice enmity against God are friends of the world. ( Jas. 4:4 ) One can gain the whole world and still lose his soul in the end. ( Lk. 9:23-25; top ) Those who claim to be clergy - and those who deny that they are clergy but still practice clergical superiority - should be afraid. Very afraid.
Let he who has ears hear.
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