2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
I have stated in the previous chapter that the dual-status system in evangelical quarters, ‘ministerial’ and ‘laity’, is simply not God’s way, but man’s invention.
“All Scripture…. is profitable for doctrine.” Doctrine must come forth from God’s word. God does not give us freedom to embrace a doctrine until someone proves it false; we are only to accept doctrines that we have tested by Scripture and found to be true. It was wrong to accept and promote the dual-status system without the assurance that it is biblical.
Jeremiah 17:5: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD.
Most, if not all, have been guilty of presumption. We trusted “in man” and made “flesh (our) strength”. We went with the flow, strengthened the flow by our participation, and became part of a very serious problem. We trusted in others; others trusted in us.
What is the curse (cost) for trusting in people? This can be answered in one word…. Jesus. It damages our relationship with the “Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls, just like catholic charismatics who choose catholic traditions over God’s Bible.
2 Corinthians 3:15: even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
Paul was referring to “the children of Israel”. Even though the books of Moses speak of Christ they could not (and cannot) understand because of the veil of traditionalism. Every non-christian has this veil (“if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” 2Cor.4:3).
I recently read in my devotional that those who lose touch with God go back to where they came from. I fully agree. My observation is that those who give the way it is undue attention slowly lose sight of Jesus Christ, and now there is once more a veil, one that prevents them from seeing the treasure they lost.
There is a veil over the minds of most christians in the body of Christ. Repeat: There is a veil over the minds of most christians in the body of Christ. This veil had once been lifted when first born again of the Holy Spirit but returned, to varying degrees, as their gaze moved imperceptibly from Jesus to man (good man, anointed man, bad man…. it makes no difference). The way it is is one of the chief felons dousing our passion for Christ, having trained us to be men-gazers instead of Christ-gazers.
Psalm 105:15 (KJV): Touch not mine anointed
That’s just the way it is! teaches the pastor or others of the ‘ministerial’ are God’s “anointed”. They have a special call of God on their lives and are responsible for the care of the flock.
Instead of being taught to receive directly from “the good shepherd”…. direction, teaching, safety, endorsement, discernment, comfort…. the christian is subtly coerced to lean upon very fallible under-shepherds. These paid professionals have become, to varying degrees, mediators between believer and Jesus!
The enemy is before us; it must be challenged. The splitting of the body of Christ into two very unequal groups is the beloved misconception of the way it is. This chapter carries on the task of tearing down this very sacred cow in evangelical ranks.
1 Corinthians 12:1: Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:
1 Corinthians has more to say about spiritual gifts than any other section of the New Testament. Since the Lord would not have us “be ignorant” let us study this letter. We will search for a scriptural basis for the two-tier system so visible in the way it is and seek for the pastor, the local church’s typification of the ‘ministerial’. If we cannot find this two-tier structure c/w a local pastor let us resolve it simply doesn’t exist in the Lord’s perspective.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7: there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
“The manifestation of the Spirit” is manifested through “diversities of gifts…. ministries…. activities”. Is this “manifestation of the Spirit” through a select few? No, “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one”…. to every Corinthian…. to every christian…. “For the profit of all”…. “All” ministers to “all”…. every to every.
1 Corinthians 12:8-11: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
This is a repeat of the previous verses (and the verses previously discussed from Ephesians). The Holy Spirit gives a gift to “each one individually as He wills.”
1 Corinthians 12:25: there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
This is a clear rebuke against the two-tier system. There is not to be a “schism (division) in the body” of Christ, but there most certainly is. In the way it is the small group, the ‘ministerial’, cares for the large group, the ‘laity’. But the Bible states, “the members should have the same care for one another.”
1 Corinthians 14:1: desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
Every believer is encouraged to prophesy, and yet “prophets” are one of the five ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11 that many insist are limited to a few. It is obviously not so.
1 Corinthians 14:3: he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
The way it is says the pastor “speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” But Paul encourages everyone to edify, exhort and encourage.
1 Corinthians 14:5: I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
Paul says it again. He wished every christian would speak a word of the Lord to the entire congregation. This is plain language. One selected person (or a few) is not supposed to do it all.
1 Corinthians 14:26: How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together,
Paul is about to tell the Corinthians how a gathering should run its course. (The Lord, through Paul, is instructing us how a gathering should be conducted.) “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
1 Corinthians 14:26: Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
Again, this is easily understood language; who cannot understand? (Those who do not want to.) How sad that Jesus has so much to say to the assembly but people are denied opportunity.
“Has anyone a short praise report?” the pastor asks the congregation, heavily emphasizing short. Not, “Does anyone have a psalm?” Not, “Does anyone want to share something the Lord has been teaching you?” Not, “Does anyone have a revelation to share with the congregation?”
In effect he is saying to the people, “Tell us the Lord healed your Aunt Martha. Share with us that your son finally got the job you believed for. Let us all know how the Lord provided the mortgage payment at the last moment. But the important stuff, like preaching and teaching, leave that to me; I am the qualified one; that’s what you pay me for.” So the ‘laity’ speaks out their collective few hundred words, and it is now time for the pastor to speak his many thousands.
Is this obedience to the Word of God? Is this building on the rock of His Bible?
1 Corinthians 14:29: Let two or three prophets speak and let the others judge.
The way it is says, “Let two or three give a short praise report and let the pastor preach/teach.”
1 Corinthians 14:31: you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.
Jesus desires to feed His flock of sheep through every one of his sheep. This way, no man is elevated. No person is given undue attention. Jesus is the central focus.
The concept of every is equally prevalent in 1 Corinthians as it is in Ephesians. And the perception of a few is equally absent. What do other letters of Paul have to say on the subject?
Romans 12:4: For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,
Romans teaches that just as every part of our natural body has a function, likewise every member in the church has a function. There isn’t a dominant member of the human body to be honoured more than other parts; likewise there isn’t a special member in the local assembly to be exalted.
Romans 12:6: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:
If an assembly does not give everyone opportunity to use his/her gifts that assembly cannot be likened to a “wise man who built his house on the rock”, but rather to “a foolish man who built his house on the sand”.(Mt.7:24,26)
Romans 12:16: Be of the same mind toward one another.
Don’t be partial. Don’t give special regard to one person. Be equal in the respect you give to others. Don’t be a man-gazer. Don’t be political. See yourself and others through the eyes of Jesus, not through the perspective of the way it is. Be wise…. build on the rock of His Word.
2 Corinthians 5:18: God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
“Us” is every christian, equally responsible to bring the “ministry of reconciliation”, the gospel of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”, to a lost and dying world.
2 Corinthians 5:20: we are ambassadors for Christ,
As much as anyone, you are an ambassador for Christ to those who have not yet bowed to His lordship. It is a lofty responsibility.
2 Corinthians 6:1: We then, as workers together with Him
“Workers together”…. none above the other in rank, no salaried person to do the work for us.
Galatians 5:13: through love serve one another.
One is not to serve all. All are not to serve one. We are to “serve one another”.
Ephesians 5:19: speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
Again and again, the “head of the church” exhorts us, through His Word, to minister to “one another”.
Philippians 2:4: Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
The way it is says, “Go to work, make lots of money so that together you can hire someone to look after your interests.”
2 Corinthians 5:20: we are ambassadors for Christ,
We are all, equally, representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who haven’t bowed their knee to the King of kings.
2 Corinthians 5:15: He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
Living for Christ is ministry, the only ministry. We are all equally in the ministry. We are all to live for and with Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:11: comfort each other and edify one another,
This is reciprocal. Mutual. Not give, give, give. Not take, take, take. But give and take. Feed and be fed. Speak and listen.
But what about those who say they received “a call” from God “into the ministry”, referring to a specific time in their christianity? They seem convinced they have been given something most believers don’t have.
There is usually a time delay from when one becomes a believer and when Jesus uses that believer in public ministry. At that time the Lord is simply commissioning the individual to be active in the ministry to which he has already been called. For most, myself included, opportunities for ministry increase gradually with maturity.
Romans 1:7: To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:
The letter of Romans is addressed to “all who are in Rome”, every believer in that city. That is significant. Paul had never been to Rome; he had never met these believers. If there was a chain of command (as there is today) Paul never acknowledged it.
Paul directed his two Corinthians letters “To the church of God which is at Corinth”. To the Galatians it was “To the churches of Galatia”. To the Ephesians, “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus”. The letters to the Colossians and the Thessalonians are similar. None were directed to a leader/pastor/elder.
Surely this is to be considered strong evidence against the two-tier system of the way it is.
Philippians 1:1 (NIV): To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
In this salutation Paul addresses the “saints” before the “overseers and deacons”. In his thinking leadership doesn’t have priority. The reverence the way it is has for leadership cannot be found in Paul’s letters.
(In another chapter we will discuss the role of “overseers”.)
Mark 7:13: making the word of God of no effect through your tradition
That’s Just The Way It Is! has become so powerful that many of the words of God have become “of no effect” in the church, one of the main reasons it is always in need of revival. The two-tier system is taught by example (not verbally) Sunday after Sunday, prompting the people to disregard what the Bible so plainly teaches. This results in a lack of reverence for the Lord and His Word.
Because God’s Word isn’t adhered to (because the Holy Spirit is not given lordship) much encouragement and direction and exhortation is not proclaimed. Much wisdom is not imparted. Miracles are a rarity. People stay imprisoned to their sickness. Fruit is limited. And worse, the exaltation of Christ is diminished.
The way it is verses Christ Jesus…. it is an issue of lordship.
Organization is the bane of life in the Spirit. Okay, maybe I should qualify that a bit. Unnecessary organization is the bane of life in the Spirit.
Most organization is unnecessary. It may be prudent to have a Wednesday 7:00 pm Bible study, but it’s imprudent to follow a programmed course. To meet at seven (or whenever) could advance the purposes of the Holy Spirit; to follow a printed Bible study could stifle the Holy Spirit. The ideal is “one another” ministry whereby each ministers to every. (“Each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation.”) He doesn’t want cookie-cutter christians.
Those attending Wednesday 7:00 pm Bible study should do so only at the leading of the Holy Spirit. Each should be personally convinced this is the will of God for him/her at this juncture of their life. We need the Holy Spirit. We desperately need the Holy Spirit. We must know we need the Holy Spirit.
Allegiance must not be given to the Wednesday 7:00 o’clock Bible study; you don’t owe anyone your attendance. There are many possible alternatives for Wednesday 7:00 pm: your family may need you…. a friend could be in need of companionship…. the Lord wants alone time with you…. you are about to get an important long distance phone call…. this week’s Bible study could lead you away from, and not deeper into, intimacy with Christ…. it may be advantageous to attend another study at another location…. the Bible study has evolved into a social gathering rather than a desire to know “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”…. etc., etc.
Yes, there could be many reasons the Holy Spirit would have you somewhere else on any Wednesday evening. Of course, the same is true regarding the Sunday 10:00 am service and every church function. He knows everything about everything and everybody. He is the only One who knows your need at any given time, and the needs of those you influence. He is fully aware of both entrapments and advantages and complications of every gathering in your city. Only the Holy Spirit knows what you need to learn and when it’s time to learn it.
The way it is thrives on organization. Organization, the unnecessary kind, is required for its survival. They need you committed to their programs/agendas. They imply lack of commitment to its itinerary is less than Godly. Officers of That’s just the way it is! do not want you reliant on the Holy Spirit; they want to be your safety, your comfort, your teacher. They want you to trust them to do what they cannot do and pay them for not doing it.
Organization, the unnecessary kind, is the first step to institutionalization. Pastor Whoever has been institutionalized and he lives to institutionalize others. To do so he must organize every aspect of the congregation’s christianity until the guidance of Holy Spirit is no longer relevant.
Thoroughly understand that if you remove the Holy Spirit as your chief decision-maker, as most evangelicals do, you at the same time remove Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. Very not good.
——————————————————A TRIBUTE TO JESUS CHRIST
“i determined not to know anything
… except jesus christ and him crucified” (1Cor.2:2)
gaze upon him
not he or she
we or them
ain’t i cute
not who i am
but who he is
not what i have
or hope to do
what he has done
not the redeemed
not the body
not the blemished
gaze upon him