A Church By Any Other Name:
Would It Smell As Sweet?
Over the years, the Catholic Church has murdered thousands of people who were guilty of nothing but suggesting that the doctrine of the Catholic Church may not be Biblically accurate.
Through the Inquisitions and persecutions, the Popes have been responsible for killing anyone (both men and women, children and elderly, rich and poor, intelligent and feeble-witted) who questioned their authority.
They forbade the common man to read the Bible, on punishment of death. People were told that they could not hear from God, and that they could not correctly understand the Bible on their own. Instead, the Popes would tell them what the Bible said, and what God had to say.
They set up many traditions, and their traditions became God's law. The traditions even became more important than the Word of God, to the point where William Tyndale was once told, "We would be better without God's laws than without the Pope." - The New Foxes Book of Martyrs, p. 124
They claimed that the bread and wine of communion actually turned into the physical flesh and blood of Christ as it was consumed. This became doctrine, and anyone who denied this supposed "truth" was put to death.
They claimed that Mary was the intercessor between God and man, when the Bible says that the only mediator between God and man is Jesus. (1st Timothy 2:5 - For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,) The Catholic Church set up icons and idols in their sanctuaries and worshipped them. Anyone claiming this was idolatry, and unrighteous in God's sight, was put to death.
The Pope claimed that he was infallible. Anyone disagreeing with this, was also put to death.
These times were truly the Dark Ages, not just for learning, and education, but they were also the dark ages of spiritual truth.
Unfortunately, for all of the reformation that has taken place since those days, today the church is still much the same.
I have heard Pastors make the statement that, "If anyone thinks they are an Apostle, they can go start their own church! This is my church, and anyone coming here will do what I say!"
This is spiritual darkness!
Who owns the Church? Jesus Christ. It is His Church. (Ephesians 5:23 - For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.) Pastors are only shepherds, they do not own the flock. (1st Peter 5:2 - Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care,…) Furthermore, the Bible tells us that we are all priests. All of God's Church is royalty. All are holy. None are laymen. (1st Peter 2:9 - But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God,…) The Bible says that no one is to spiritually rule over anyone else. (Matthew 20:25-28 - Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.")
But pastors today, even Apostolic pastors, act as if they own the Church. They call the church their flock (when it is Christ's flock). They spiritually rule over the congregation. They say that you can not hear from God, and that you can not correctly understand the Bible on your own. Instead, they will tell you what the Bible says, and what God has to say concerning your life.
People find themselves in a position where God speaks to them, and they go to their Pastor to let him know what God told them to do, and the Pastor tells them not to involve themselves in what they think God told them to do. The Pastor says, "You did not hear from God. God never told me about this thing you believe you're supposed to do."
When the person says, "But God told me I need to…", the Pastor interrupts and says, "Who's your Pastor? Do what I am telling you to do."
Just as the Pope claimed he was infallible, so do many Pastors of today claim that they are the only ones who really know God's will for your life. You don't. God will not speak to you. The Pastor will tell you what God wants.
What does the Bible say about Pastors? What does it say about the relationship between the Church and the One who owns it, Jesus Christ? What instruction does the Bible give us on how to operate within the framework of leadership?
Let's open the Word of God and find out.
First of all, let's find out how the Bible defines a "Pastor".
Ephesians 4:11-13 says: It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
The word "pastor" here, is "poimen" in the Greek language, and it means "shepherd".
What are a shepherd's duties?
In the morning, he leads his flock from the fold, which he does by going before them and calling to them, as is still the custom in the East. After arriving at the pasture, he watches over the flock, and if any sheep strays away, he will search for it until he finds it. In the evening, he brings them back to the fold and counts them to be sure none are missing, by passing them "under the rod" as they enter the door of the fold.
The Hebrew word for "shepherd" is "raa", and it means "to care for flocks; to rule with a focus on care and concern; tend; feed; take care of; find pasture; care for; nourish".
Everything about this word "shepherd" says "Compassion. Sympathy. Concern. Provide. Love."
Ephesians 4:11 says that some were called to be pastors, or shepherds. They were called to be compassionate. They were called to be sympathetic. They were called to be concerned for the Church of Christ, to provide for them, to take care of them, and to love them.
They are to walk to the front of the flock and lead them by calling to them. (John 10:3,4 - …the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.)The flock, who know the shepherd's voice, will then follow the shepherd. The shepherd is not to lead by walking behind the flock and driving them with a whip and a rod.
Notice here, that the sheep know the shepherd's voice, and that is the reason they follow him. Which shepherd are the scriptures talking about here? The man who is called Pastor, or the Good Shepherd? The answer is, the sheep know the voice of Jesus Christ, and they follow His voice.
If the Pastor is dead to himself, and only alive in Christ, being a mirror image of the Lord, then the words he speaks are not his, but come from the Father. So as he speaks the words of the Father, the sheep hear their master's voice, and will follow.
The sheep are not hearing the voice of the man called Pastor, but the words of the Lord. As long as the Pastor follows Christ, the sheep will follow him. But if the Pastor begins speaking in his own voice, then the sheep become confused, and will not follow the strange voice. This is how it comes to be, that the Pastor leaves his position of leadership at the front of the flock, and goes to the rear, driving them with a whip and rod.
Anyone herding the Church of God is not shepherding them. The fact that he has to resort to herding them, proves that the voice he is speaking with is no longer the voice of the Good Shepherd, and that is why the flock have stopped following.
A Pastor who finds himself in the position of having to drive the flock, needs to stop and ask himself what voice he is speaking with.
So a Pastor provides for the sheep, and leads them by calling to them. How many Pastors have it completely backwards? They require that the sheep provide for them (See the Bible Study "The Law of the Tithe") and they lead from the rear with a whip.
By the Biblical definition, these people are not Pastors, regardless of what they call themselves.
The Biblical definition of a Pastor, is one who cares for the flock, who rules them by being their servant, focusing on care and concern for the sheep. He tends the flock, feeds them, takes care of them, and finds pasture for them to graze on. He cares for the sheep, and nourishes them. (Original Hebrew meaning of "shepherd")
What else does a Biblical Pastor do?
He watches over the flock to make sure none of them come to harm, and that none of them wander off. If they do wander off, he is to go and search for the ones that are missing. (John 10:11 - "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.; Matthew 18:12-14 - "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.)
How many Pastors could care less about those who meet with them in the church building? If the sheep show up, fine. If they don't, then so what? If they stop meeting together with the saints, does he go after them? Does he call them? Does he visit them? Do they delegate the job that they should be doing, as Pastors, to others in the Church? Some "Pastors" are not only indifferent to the needs of the flock, they are the ones responsible for driving them away, by beating them with the whip and refusing to meet their needs (See the Bible Study "Triage: The Devil's Battlefield").
Those who refuse to look out for the flock and bring them back when they get lost, are not Pastors, no matter what they may say. The Bible says they are only hired hands. (John 10:12,13 - The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.)
Ezekiel 34:1-10 - "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
7 "'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.
The Lord says that those who do not take care of His flock, those who do not strengthen the weak, or heal the sick, or care for the injured, those who ruled His sheep with harshness and brutality, were not shepherds at all. The Lord said that His flock was scattered because they had no shepherd, regardless of what the hired hands called themselves. The Lord said that because His flock has no shepherd, He is against those who had been called to shepherd. He will hold them accountable, and He will remove them from His flock.
Those are pretty harsh words. Shepherds who do not care for the sheep will be removed from the flock and held accountable. The Lord Himself will be against them.
Pastors are to take care of the sheep, and bring them back to the safety of the fold when they wander away from it.
Galatians 6:1 - Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.
James 5:19 - My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
These two verses talk about the work that a Pastor does. A Pastor restores those who have become lost. He brings the sheep back to the fold.
So now we know what a Pastor is. He is a Shepherd. We know what a shepherd does, and we know what happens to those who call themselves shepherds, but are only hired hands.
Here is another thing to remember. A Pastor should treat the title of Pastor very reverently, for in all reality, he is not the shepherd of the sheep. Christ is the shepherd of the sheep. Pastors are only caretakers of the sheep which the shepherd has given them, and He has given them to the Pastors, not to be ruled by them, but to be cared for by them.
John 10:14-16 - "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
Jesus said that He was the Good Shepherd. He said that there is only one flock, and only one shepherd.
So Pastors should tread lightly and respectfully, mindful that even though they are called shepherds, there is only one shepherd, and that is Christ. God may have been gracious enough to give them the title of Pastor, but no one really deserves this title, for there is only one Pastor.
Romans 12:3 - For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
Pastors do not own the flock, they are only caretakers of God's Church.
1st Peter 5:2 - Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care,…
They are to be shepherds of whose flock? God's flock. It is not theirs.
Anyone who says, "I am the Pastor of this Church", or "I am your Pastor", is in danger of overstepping his boundaries, and may have, in fact, already overstepped them.
Yes, his duty is to care for Christ's flock, and yes, he is called a Pastor, but there is only one Shepherd, and there is only one Head of the Church. Pastors should go about their duties of searching out the lost sheep and restoring them to the fold, with humbleness and meekness, ever mindful of the fact that Christ is the only true Shepherd that there is, and that they have only been granted the privilege of using His title. The title does not belong to them.
The Bible tells us that there is a specific goal that Pastors work toward, and that is to equip the saints for their ministry, to build up the Body of Christ until we all attain maturity in Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 - And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; - RSV)
Do you see here, that Pastors are to be about their duties with the purpose of equipping the saints for ministry?
We all have a part in the Body of Christ.
1st Corinthians 12:4-31 - There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
The Bible says here that each of us are given a gift, and each of us have a part in the Body of Christ. We each have a ministry.
The Pastor's job is to equip the saints for their ministry. The Bible says that we each have a job to do, and Pastors have been given to us to help equip us to do those jobs.
When you look at Pastors today, do you see shepherds? Do you see equippers? Or do you see rulers?
Imagine a prospector, entering an old dusty General Store. He is preparing to mine for gold in the mountains to the west. The Outfitter sells him the tools and the provisions that he needs. Sometimes, the Outfitter will recommend a certain type of tool, explaining the advantages that one piece of equipment has over another. He tells the prospector what he will need, and occasionally imparts a nugget of knowledge that he has picked up over the years. The Outfitter equips the prospector for the work of mining for gold.
This is just like a Pastor, who equips the saints for the work of their ministry.
Today, many Pastors are not equippers. They act as if they own the mountain that the prospector is mining. They act as if the sheep work for them, instead of it being the other way around (By saying this, I do not mean that the Pastor is in the employ of the saints, but rather, that the Pastor serves the saints).
Many of today's Pastors act as if the saints are there to equip them, when in reality, they are there to serve and equip the saints.
What did the Bible say about those Pastors who are feeding off of the sheep, rather than the sheep feeding off of them?
Ezekiel 34:2,3; 7-10 - 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 7 "'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.
The Pastors who only take care of themselves, and do not care for the flock, will be removed from the flock and the Lord Himself will be against them.
A Pastor is to care for the Church, nourishing it and equipping it. A person who calls himself a Pastor, but has the Church nourishing him, and equipping him for his ministry is not a Pastor, but a hired hand, and will find himself replaced by God and having to give an account for his actions.
Pastors today love to have "visions" of the work they would like to accomplish for Christ. They then enlist the saints to be about the work of carrying out their vision. They ask for volunteers to work in a soup kitchen, others to begin a jail ministry, some to go door-to-door witnessing, some are recruited into the music ministry, and some are conscripted as Sunday School Teachers, in order to fulfill the vision the Pastor has for his ministry.
This is not what a Pastor is supposed to be about, at all!
He is to help others find out what their own unique talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts are. He is to help the saints find out where they are supposed to fit in, in the Body of Christ, whether they're an ear, an eye, a hand, or a foot.
Then he is to equip them to fulfill their own ministry!
Pastors are care-givers, restorers, teachers, and equippers. They are not spiritual rulers, with their own agenda. The Bible says those are hired hands.
Pastors today all get the teaching part of their job description right, but many completely ignore the shepherding part, where they watch over the flock with care and concern, and go after those who slip away, restoring them to the fold. Many Pastors today believe that this is the job of the congregation, because they are too busy preparing sermons. It is the job of all Believers, but it is specifically the job description of a Pastor.
Ironic, isn't it, that they, being called Pastors, forget the pastoring aspect of their jobs!
Pastors provide for the sheep, lead by calling them, watch over the flock, guard them from danger, go after those who wander away, restore those who are lost to the safety of the fold, and equip the saints for the work of their ministry.
Now that we know what Pastors do, who can be a Pastor? Is there only one per church group?
Let's take a look in Acts.
Acts 20:17 - From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.
Paul sent for the elders of the Church in Ephesus. Note that he sent for more than one man. He sent for several men from the same group of believers.
Before we continue, let's look up some definitions.
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