Ephesians 4:11: and some pastors
This is the only occasion the New Testament uses the word “pastors”. The singular word “pastor” is never used. However, in evangelical circles the usage of the word pastor is quite common. This establishes (again) that the emphases of the way it is and the Bible is quite different.
NOTE: Instead of calling the man ‘Pastor Whoever’ – Pastor Whoever is simply the salaried pastor of any given assembly – let’s call him “Pastor John” in this chapter. Okay?
Matthew 16:15: who do you say that I am?”
Ask an evangelical who his pastor is and he will reply, “Pastor John” (or whoever). Never Jesus. I have never heard anyone refer to Jesus as “Pastor Jesus”.
Ephesians 5:23: the husband is the head of the wife
Ask a wife the same question and she will give the same answer. If a mortal man really were her pastor it would be her husband. (But, in fact, her only pastor is Pastor Jesus.)
Colossians 3:20: Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
There is a baby dedication at an evangelical Sunday service. Colossians 3:20 shows clearly that parents have authority over their children. Is it the father, the head of the family under Christ, who dedicates his child? Nope. The way it is dictates that Pastor John performs all public functions.
Most of what we learn is not by verbal communication, but by example. The ways and means of the way it is are conveyed mostly by example, not by pulpit ministry. Dedicating the baby before the assembly is but one of many examples of non-verbal teachings in the evangelical religion, one that conveys that a pastor has greater authority than a dad. A false impression has been imposed upon fathers, mothers, children and everyone present.
Psalm 23:1: The LORD is my shepherd;
If “the Lord is my shepherd” (my pastor) how can I call a man my shepherd? Repeat: How can I call a man, any man, my pastor? How could the church have degenerated so low that one brother calls another his pastor? A wife calling another man her pastor is nothing less than spiritual kinkiness. Children calling him “Pastor” (shepherd) must be grievous to the Bible’s Author.
Hebrews 13:20: that great Shepherd of the sheep,
Jesus, “that great (Pastor) of the sheep”. Jesus…. my pastor, your pastor, our only pastor.
1 Peter 1:1: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
Whose apostle was Peter? He was Jesus’ apostle, to be used as Jesus, “the head of the church”, so decided. The same applies to pastors. A pastor is a pastor “of Jesus Christ”, one instrument of many used to shepherd Christ’s flock. One might call him an “under-pastor” (one under Christ).
Hebrews 3:1 (NIV): fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
Who was the apostle of the Hebrews? Was it Peter or Paul? No, it was Jesus. Who is our apostle? It is Jesus. Who is our pastor? Is it John or Frank or Bill or Randy? No, by the same reasoning it is Jesus. “Fix your thoughts on Jesus” and not any man.
John 10:11: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
There is only one “good shepherd.” (“No one is good but One, that is, God.” Mt.19:17) He proved His love by facing a very cruel death on our behalf. The Redeemer, not a redeemed one, is pastor of His flock.
Jesus uses His sheep to assist in the shepherding of His flock. (Jesus shepherds His sheep through His sheep.)
Isaiah 40:11: He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.
Whose flock? “His flock”, the “good shepherd (who) gives His life for the sheep.” Who “will feed His flock”? Jesus will feed His flock. How? He feeds His people through His people.
A christian gathering should be something like a potluck supper. The Lord supplies everyone with something and when they come together they share those provisions. Jesus nurtures the flock through the flock. There isn’t a man who can properly shepherd the sheep of His pasture. There isn’t a man deserving the title “Pastor”.
Matthew 23:10: do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.
The same principle applies to the ministry of pastor: “Do not be called (pastors); for One is your (Pastor), the Christ.”
Notice Jesus instructs, “do not be called”. One must not allow others to call him “Pastor”. “Please do not call me Pastor John, but simply John.”
Ephesians 4:11: and some pastors
In an assembly of fifty adults how many pastors are there? (How many have the calling of pastor?) No one knows, but let’s consider. If you agree every christian has been given at least one of the five ministry gifts, it is possible one out of five is called to be a pastor. That would mean there would be ten pastors (in varying degrees of anointing and maturity). It could be more (that’s my guess) or it could be less, but certainly it would be more than one.
The way it is suggests there is but one pastor, and he alone is authorized; the other nine are never acknowledged. This leads to a monopoly of one that is demoralizing and counter-productive.
Not only are the other nine pastors not recognized, but neither are those having the calling of apostle, prophet, evangelist or teacher. All forty-nine look to one man for direction, teaching, consolation, exhortation. This is not God’s way. The assembly is poorly nourished and Pastor John is exhausted.
Luke 10:7: the laborer is worthy of his wages.
This one-man ministry causes a dilemma for Pastor John: “Because I do it all, I must get paid… and because I get paid, I must do it all… and because I do it all, I must get paid… and because I…”
In fact, John is not a one-man ministry. Others are involved in the workload: ushers, Sunday school teachers, bookkeepers; some are involved in prayer ministry and healing ministry; others organize social gatherings. But all ministries are extensions of Pastor John’s ministry. From this brother comes direction, encouragement, leadership. He assumes responsibility for the spiritual, financial and social welfare of the church, and more than everyone else combined influences the spiritual outcome of the assembly.
The fact that Pastor John has a salary places him far above the rest; it makes him more special, more heeded. Comparatively, the rest are but helpers, their labour not worthy of remuneration.
Romans 12:6: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:
Pastor John may not be a pastor. (Lord Jesus never gave him that particular ministry gift.) Many who are called “Pastor” are actually evangelists or teachers or apostles or prophets. Why are they called “Pastor”? Blame that on the way it is….
The only one on salary is the pastor, so one ‘becomes’ a pastor to procure a paycheck. To call a pastor “Pastor John” is wrong; to call a teacher or evangelist “Pastor John” because John wants to be financially supported is evangelical madness. And yet this is common practice.
1 Peter 5:2: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers,
How can one man shepherd a flock of forty-nine? The answer is…. not very well. This man cannot hope to associate with all, so the only ones getting his attention are those in crisis. The people have been taught, by strong implication, Pastor John is the sole shepherd, and so they do not look to each other for support (as the New Testament teaches them to do).
Every one of those forty-nine have a ministry gift, but few realize it. All assume their place is limited to supporting Pastor John. After all, they haven’t been to Bible college, they aren’t licensed or ‘ordained’, and they are not recognized by the ‘ministerial’ (or by each other).
Acts 20:30: from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Because Pastor John makes himself so visible he unwittingly draws “away the disciples after” himself and the denomination he represents. Thoughts are more centred on him than Jesus. His words, his opinions, his perspectives are much more esteemed than they should be. He isn’t considered to be merely one of the guys, but God’s anointed.
While John’s motive may be to protect and nurture the congregation, he can, in fact, be damaging their relationship with Jesus. He can actually be a third party (an interfering, divisive person) in the relationship between Christ and believer.
1 John 3:23 (Amplified): And this is His order (His command, His injunction): that we should believe in (put our faith and trust in and adhere to and rely on) the name of His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and that we should love one another, just as He commanded us.
The great tragedy is that evangelicals have been seduced (to varying degrees) to “believe in (put… faith and trust in and adhere to and rely on)” pastors and their denominations.
Many things can and do usurp the lordship of Christ…. business, love of money, self-rule, ministry, religious ambitions and…. evangelicalism, the religion represented by the pastor and the denomination that placed him. This religion is perhaps the subtlest stumbling block of all because its cloaked in (undeserved) respectability.
It is an acute problem very few recognize.
Luke 6:46: why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?
Many churches have added tithing to their list of requirements for membership. Pastor John could have that changed, but that’s not likely. The budget long ago became a god to be served. In every congregation there are some who do not believe tithing is a New Covenant requirement. For these, this is the cause of a real dilemma.
Many christians face this very issue and others similar. Should they compromise their convictions for the sake of unity? If they do not submit to this stipulation they will lose the pastor’s favour (ouch!), and perhaps never be given opportunity to serve in the church. They will be second-rate adherents. To leave the fellowship and find another would bring much stress to their families. But how can they surrender the lordship of the Holy Spirit over their finances?
And those who bow to the way it is over their own convictions will damage their relationship with Jesus Christ. Accepting the decrees of man over “the head of the church” will cause a shift of loyalty from Redeemer to redeemed. Very not good. This is just a sampling of how the way it is can be a third party in the relationship between Christ and christian.
Luke 17:1 (NIV): Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.
Pastors (etc.) who promote illegitimate traditions cause many to sin. I suggest most believers have been seduced to sin many times in similar circumstances, compromising their understanding of the Bible to embrace a traditional teaching for the sake of pleasing men, fitting in, going with the flow.
I suggest most pastors have been placed by men because of their readiness to compromise God’s truths for men’s traditions. No nonconformists allowed! I suggest Joe Average Christian who attends Average Evangelical Church is, to one degree or another, a disciple of man, and to that same degree is not following after his/her Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:24: do this in remembrance of Me.”
We are to break bread and drink of “the fruit of the vine” in remembrance of Jesus. It is meant to be a solemn occasion of drawing closer to our Christ.
Because Pastor John always leads the ceremonial observance, because he is so visible and so ‘heard’, the communion service has the dual effect of remembering Jesus and John! The assembly is impressed by, and drawn closer to, both! False non-verbal messages are beaconed to the congregation. Pastor John’s credibility as sole leader and someone special is reinforced by a service that is supposed to cement and repair relationships to Christ.
Exodus 12:3 (NIV): Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.
The passover feast was preliminary to our communion service. The last supper was both the passover meal and a commemoration of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. The lamb slain by the Israelites was a type of Christ, “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. (“Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us”. 1Cor.5:7) It is significant that: It was the father who was to choose a lamb “without blemish, a male of the first year”. (Ex.12:5) It was the father who was to put the blood of the slain lamb on the doorframe of his house. This ritual was done in the home. There is no reason why a communion service (an antitype of the passover meal) should not be administered by the father, with his family, in his home, on a regular basis.
Also, a communion service could (and should) occasionally be with christian friends, or even by oneself. It should be used extensively to bring believers relationally closer to Jesus.
For those who would be apprehensive of having communion service in their home, that apprehension could be an indicator of bondage to the way it is, and lack of commitment to the Bible.
John: 21:17: Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
You have heard the term “sheep stealing”. This is not in reference to those who steal sheep from Jesus, but churches stealing sheep from each other! The use of this term is an admission they have indeed drawn “the disciples after themselves”.
Jesus calls the assembly “My sheep” because He is the Shepherd. Peter was not to feed “his” sheep, but His sheep. Pastors are not to nurture ‘their’ flock (they do not possess a flock), but His flock. The assembly is not to call John ‘their’ pastor, because Christ alone is their Pastor.
3 John 1:10: he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
John is referring to “Diotrephes, who loves to have the pre-eminence”. This man had attained much power, enough to put those who disagreed with him “out of the church”.
I surmise much about Diotrephes. Diotrephes was a controller, an unhappy man who smiled a lot in the company of others. (A smile, time has taught me, is the controller’s choice lure.) He threatened, beguiled, flattered and smiled his way to top position.This man talked much and he was intelligent. And he had a capacity for cruelty, never hesitating to smear the reputation of anyone daring to stand in his way. He sowed discord regularly, leaving a trail of pain and division. The conflict he proficiently generated was not only between himself and others, but also between others and others…. brother against brother, sister against sister. To maintain power he surrounded himself with ‘yes’ men, weak men, ‘cooperative’ men.
Diotrephes should never have held such power. One should not have power over many. Power (influence) should be shared by many, thereby giving it less opportunity to corrupt. A one-man ministry is not the Bible way.
Hebrews 5:12: by this time you ought to be teachers,
Paul was speaking to the Hebrews who had “become dull of hearing”. They should have matured by this time, students evolving into teachers. The same principle is true regarding pastors; many of the Hebrews should have evolved into pastors. Many teachers and pastors is influence shared.
Spiritually, there should be an uninterrupted maturing process. As a child matures physically, mentally, socially and emotionally to become a productive and healthy adult, so the babe in Christ should develop spiritually to become a productive and healthy shepherd (under-shepherd) of Christ’s sheep. The maturing progress should be steady with no predetermined limitations. An expectation should be planted in each heart. Non-biblical burdens (license, degrees, credentials) should be outlawed.
The way it is hinders natural development and produces lifetime spiritual dependents. The pastor, so intent on fulfilling his calling, does the job he gets paid to do. He is the lone voice speaking into people’s lives. Others are ignored. This induces an unhealthy mindset for pew-people: “I am not called to publicly minister the Word. My place is to support the pastor in his calling.” This mindset is a crippler, causing most to be marginally productive.
1 Peter 4:10: As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another,
The way it is is often far above the word of God in evangelical quarters. The way it is is bowed to, the Bible ignored The pastor has been placed by traditionalists and is expected to adhere to their traditions. Opportunity for the forty-nine to “minister…. to one another” is suppressed.
Since the pastor is paid he must do it all. (And since he does it all he must be paid.)
1 Corinthians 3:9: we are God’s fellow workers;
Pastor John goes on a much-needed vacation. Does he call one of the “fellow workers” to give the Word on Sunday? By this time many “ought to be teachers” within the congregation, but the way it is implies that someone accredited should be brought in. Upon what Scripture verse is such logic built? None. (Do you see it? The way it is is so powerful, so reverenced, it does not require a scriptural foundation.)
In fact, the assembly does not consist of “fellow workers”. There is one man who is ‘in the ministry’; the rest are ‘laymen’, subservient to this one.
Ephesians 5:23 (NIV): the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church,
A family is holy ground. The way it is calls the local church a “family” but that is not scriptural. If the assembly really is a family, who are perceived as the children? That would have to be the ‘laity’. And the father? That could only be the pastor. And the mother? Perhaps the pastor’s wife. The notion of ‘family’ places the people under the father figure (the pastor), worsening an already unhealthy perspective.
The family is God’s creation and no one should tinker with it by labelling something to be a family that is not. Ephesians 5:23 is a powerful statement. If any man should be called “Reverend”, it should be the husband and father. For it is he who is “the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church”. No church leader is given such high validation.
(There is one reference to the church as “family”, but this is not the local assembly but “the whole family in heaven and earth”. Eph.3:15)
Ephesians 6:1-3: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Any system, any tradition, any suggestion that would spiritually place another man above the father and mother is corruption of God’s very emphatic word. Perhaps you have heard it said, “God anoints who He appoints.” God appointed dad and mom, and God anoints them with ability to raise their children in the Lord.
Unfortunately, the local assembly does not recognize dad’s spiritual capacity and this causes him to look small in the eyes of his impressionable children (and in his own sight). Though attending church for many years he was never entrusted to give the message on Sunday. Should he lead a friend or neighbour to Christ, he won’t be allowed to baptize him; this must be done by…. guess who?…. Pastor John. Dad doesn’t even dedicate his own children. The kids probably conclude: “Hmmm… I guess God doesn’t think much of Dad. All he does is pass the collection plate and help people find a seat. I wish he were more like Pastor John.” Perhaps the children are echoing what Dad thinks about himself.
1 Corinthians 1:31: “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
We can tell in whom we glory by what we say. Our speech discloses our hearts. The same is true of the local assembly. Who are the people boasting about? Who are they infatuated with? Whose approval are they seeking? To know, listen for names; it is that simple. Speech unveils the heart.
1 Corinthians 3:21: let no one glory in men.
Don’t, even if most do. Speak the name of Jesus at least five times for every time you speak the name Pastor John. Paul sometimes spoke of men, but he spoke of Jesus more than all others combined. Because Jesus, not man, reigned in his heart.
1 Corinthians 7:23: You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
Study the christians around you. Whose slaves are they? Who do they serve? Is it truly Jesus? If so, there will be a healthy relationship between them and Him. Their eyes will become wet as they speak of the One they know so well and deeply appreciate. There will be an overflowing passion that will not be quenched.
Or are they “slaves of men”? To Pastor John and his denomination? Or to the fellowship? Or to a movement or set of doctrines? Or to That’s Just The Way It Is!?
Romans 8:5: those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
Is your mind set on the one you can see, or the One you cannot see?
Romans 8:6: to be carnally minded is death,
Men-gazing, men-pleasing, adhering to the way it is is being “carnally minded”.
Romans 8:6: to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Continual, or et least intermittent, awareness of the presence of Jesus Christ will bring “life and peace”. Repent of pastor worship, denominationalism, men-gazing. “Be spiritually minded.” Do not “glory in men”,but “glory in the Lord”. “You were bought with a price”, nothing less than the extremely precious blood of “the Lamb of God”.
Luke 18:8: when the Son of Man comes,
The King is coming. And when He comes He will find each of His redeemed ones bowing to someone or something. Many will be spiritually prostrate before money and the toys it has purchased. Almost all will be bowing before a religious system. And still others will be prostrate before Him, “the King eternal, immortal, invisible”. (1Tm.1:17)
Pastor John is a man of divided loyalties. He is a product of both the Holy Spirit and the Word of God which he has studied more than most, and the denomination that schooled, trained and certified him.
It was his proven willingness to cooperate that procured him the position of pastor, and he is determined to prove himself faithful to those above him. There is much pressure on John to conform to That’s Just The Way It Is!, and to lead others into conformity. Like the plumber and the doctor in the congregation, he needs that paycheck to feed wife and kids. And like the plumber and doctor he has no desire to change occupation.
John has his eye on a larger congregation. Bigger the church, bigger the paycheck and better the benefits. He wants to be a good provider for his growing family. And there’s retirement to think about. But the competition is heavy; he must prove himself responsible to those higher in rank or his chances of advancement will shrivel.
Pastor John is a connecting door between two spiritual spheres, one being the denomination that endorsed him, the other the assembly he serves. Whereas the ‘laity’ live in one world, John lives in two. From the one he is sent, to the other he has arrived. The one has trained him, the other is his ministry. The one has his loyalty, the other his energy. He listens to one, he speaks to the other. His peers and friends live in one sphere, his followers in the other. The perspective he receives from one he passes on to the other.
John’s ministerial realm is exclusive to fellow ‘ministers’ and the denomination John serves. Most in the ‘laity’ don’t know how the denomination operates…. its bylaws and governing process. People will never meet those who make decisions that, through Pastor John, seriously affect their christianity. There is a wide gap between the two spiritual worlds, bridged only by Pastor John.
John may be five feet, eight inches tall (about average). If, spiritually speaking, he were five foot eight, he would be much taller, about six foot six, in the mindset of the congregation. And growing.
Every time he ministers behind the pulpit, he gets bigger in their sight. He becomes wiser, more discerning, more anointed, more favoured. Bigger, increasingly bigger. Such is the power of the pulpit. To the wife he is bigger than husband; to the children Dad and Mom are comparatively spiritual midgets.
On Sunday morning Pastor John steps to the pulpit. This is his hour. He is meticulously attired in his suit-and-tie uniform, hair recently trimmed, shoes polished. He has been trained for this hour, he has had much practice, he has prayed, he is ready to go.
John breaks his sermon into three easy-to-remember points. He raises and lowers his voice and inserts a few jokes to keep monotony from setting in. He is an impressive, authoritative figure. He is practised, poised, professional. Preaching over, he has once more grown in stature in the sight of his listeners.
And the people have imperceptibly shrunk in their own estimation. As John becomes bigger, they become smaller…. less wise, less anointed, less valued. And more subservient to this man who obviously has a special position in God.
Pastor John does not often preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. He speaks of principles and keys and responsibilities and works and being good enough. But rarely Jesus.
John has taken various courses in psychology to help obtain promotions within the ministerial sphere of the way it is. Since there is a mixture in John’s heart, there is a mixture in his message. And since there is a blend in his preaching/teaching, there is a mixture in the hearts of the assembly. The Jesus he presents is not New Testament Jesus, not the miracle-working Jesus, not Christ the Healer. Whereas Paul’s preaching was not “with persuasive words” or “excellence of speech”, but “in demonstration of the Spirit and in power” (1Cor.2:4), John’s preaching is void of power and heavily reliant on “excellence of speech”.
The preaching is different because the men are different because their relationship with Christ is different. Paul was a bondservant of Christ; John is a man of divided loyalties, trying to serve both Christ and the way it is.
John is not less spiritual than most, perhaps more so. He didn’t create the way it is; he is its disciple. He is a victim of victims. He is in bondage to those in bondage. When he stands before Christ at the judgement seat he will have an assortment of “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw” just like the rest of us.
No pastor should be idolized. Pastor-worship is sin. Though the way it is has made Pastor John to appear to be something he is not, the Word teaches he is simply a brother, spiritually taller than some, shorter than others. He is not “Reverend”. He is not your pastor.
If this book were addressed to catholic christians, I would say they must refute man-worship…. the priest, bishop, cardinal, pope. I would tell them there is a reverence that is good in God’s sight, a reverence for each other on the basis of who we are in Christ. And I would tell them there is a reverence that is un-sanctified, one that lifts one brother above another, based on position established by the way it is.
I would tell them we are all priests unto God (Rev.1:6), and God did not appoint someone to make sacrifices on their behalf. There is one sacrifice and one High Priest; under Him we are all equal. There is no ‘clergy’; there is no ‘laity’. And you, looking from the outside, can see clearly such homage to man is sin. How much easier to see the flaws of other faiths.
Do not make the same mistake. Your Bible teaches partiality is sin. (Pr.24:23) Allegiance to non-biblical traditions is disloyalty to Jesus Christ. Do not let your heart be a mixture, a blending of the way it is and the Word of God. Commit yourself to the Bible, God’s lone authoritative Word, and to the lordship of the “Spirit of truth”.
—————————————————-A TRIBUTE TO JESUS CHRIST
“i determined not to know anything
… except jesus christ and him crucified.” (1Cor.2:2)
not to know
be impressed by
and him crucified
not to ponder
and him crucified
not to fear
and him crucified
not react to
be loyal to
and him crucified