Thursday, April 03, 2014

AUTHORITY AND CHURCH LIFE _____PART FOUR

Authority is to be experienced in the assembly, I believe, because of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit becoming obvious through people as they serve the whole of the body. In a real sense, the entire body shares authority. [Eph. 5:21, 1Peter 5:5] What this means is we recognize one another's gifts, knowledge, or experience in the Lord and we choose to serve/submit because we know the Holy Spirit has placed some as gifts and has anointed the ministries of those gifts. We follow and are instructed and encouraged.

That is the key to understanding Bishops/Pastors/Elders/Deacons and their function. No one has authority BECAUSE they hold an office. Authority certainly doesn't come because someone has a stronger personality, knows more Bible, or is held in higher esteem personally than is anyone else. That is foreign to the New Testament.

Paul the Apostle himself, had to defend his Apostleship by showing it  to be the work of the Spirit having set him aside for his ministry. 1Tim. 5:17 does speak of those Elders that "give oversight well,"as being "worthy of double honor." But it is the recognition of that "give oversight well" that is the reason for authority. Evaluating well those who say they are of the Lord is always the correct thing to do, and when found to be true, it was defined as the Holy Spirit's anointing upon them. 


In other words, the anointing of the Spirit makes clear the authority that rests on a ministry done well, not an office that is held by someone. So what we have in the text is an authority that is to be experienced in the assembly because of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit made obvious through people.

As I've already said, in one sense the entire body shares authority.  [Eph. 5:21, 1Peter 5:5]  This means we recognize one another's gifts, knowledge, or experience in the Lord and we choose to serve/submit and follow one another because the Holy Spirit has placed us all as gifts to the body, in some fashion, and we all are to experience His anointing on our ministries and gifts.


What a tragedy that we have accepted a hierarchy of rulers in the local Church which ends up limiting the freedom of so many members of the Church. Then, to add insult to injury, the ruled ones have their spirituality measured by their "submission" to the "authority" of those "rulers." This, instead of measuring the "authority" of leaders by their "submission" to the Lord


This is I think primarily the case because of the present day view of the Church which sees the church as being an institution or organization run by leaders who are of a corporate C.E.O. mentality which is, as has been shown, completely foreign to the scriptures.

Now I want to give my ABCs for authority in the Church. 

You've heard the phrase "simply as the ABCs I'm sure. Well, this may be simple but it isn't easy as evidenced by so many who don't practice them. This failure may be because of the dreaded three "Ps," POSITION/PERSONALITY/POWER!

Regardless, my ABCs are...


A__ There is only one head of the Church and all authority has been given to Him. If anyone ever assumes authority because of their person or position they are usurping the authority of the Head. [Eph. 4:5,15]


B__Believers have been given an authoritative Word which carries with it His direction for all who make up the Body. [Universal or local] The Old Testament began that authoritative Word with Israel as the unique people receiving it and New Testament fulfills that Old covenant and a fresh Word is given to a new entity made up of Jews and Gentiles, The Church.

When He said, "Hear ye Him," the Father gave clear direction as to the source for what He says and it is found in the New Covenant record of the Old Testament fulfilled in Christ and He is our new lawgiver. [Heb. 1:2, Acts 18:28]



C__All believers are priests and are gifted with equal responsibility to the Head of the Church [Christ] individually, regardless of race, gender or age and all believers also have a responsibility to fulfill the "one anothers" of the New Testament. There is no exception. [Rom. 14:4, Eph. 5:21, 1 Corinthians 12-14]


D__There are certain ones [without regard to gender] who are gifted, as all members are remember, and become a gift to the body in a unique way. Whether pastor/elder/bishop/
deacon/ hospitality/ evangelist/ and many more could be mentioned, with the purpose of these persons/gifts serving the whole body by equipping all for ministry. [Eph. 4:11-12]


E__There is no emphasis in the New Testament on "authority" that is derived from an "office." The King James version uses the word "office" but it is not in the best texts, and it would be better to NOT use it when interpreting the verses in which is is found in the KJV.


So the rule of church life is really to be the Headship of Christ, the priesthood of all believers, and each member contributing with giftedness and ministry and edifying each other in the process. This is with no regards to station, race, or gender. 

It is legitimate to set up any system, any format, any procedure a local fellowship desires to carry out business, but to function under the anointing of the Spirit. and serve one another is real body-life, which then moves into a community for the sharing of the gospel. 


This must not be simply theory but practice if we are to reflect the reality of Christ to a lost world in need of the gospel. Check any leadership by this standard if you want to be biblical in church life.

There is no way I could tell you how many and who are the people that have assisted my understanding with their outstanding work in this area. I've used much of what I've read, researched, and recorded along the way the last several years sometimes without even noting where I got it. But when I write it here, it is my responsibility and my personal belief system fleshed out in my words. I hope it has helped.


Paul B.

5 comments:

Aussie John said...

Paul,

Well! You certainly didn't disappoint! Funny thing: Your Bible seems to teach the same as mine!

That word "implied" has become such a handy word in this unholy exercise of proving ones authority.

One thing stands out, which I understood, but found out of sync with "traditions". Like so many others have done, that inconvenient knowledge was placed on the back shelf,out of site: " ....the entire body shares authority."

"No one has authority BECAUSE they hold an office. Authority certainly doesn't come because someone has a stronger personality, knows more Bible, or is held in higher esteem personally than is anyone else. That is foreign to the New Testament."

Also foreign to the N.T. is the idea that all of the previous mentioned, DOES NOT make a person less human and more out-of-this-world spiritual.

How many of us have reacted proudly to wearing the halo which congregations place on a man/woman who has seminary/college background?

The institutional/corporate world idea of authority, which has been grafted into the church, is a devilishly acceptable matter for sinful human beings,who for whatever reason, enter recognised leadership role,no matter what "title", or "office" they wear.

As my mother used to say "like it or lump it"!

Paul,"tragedy" is certainly the right word to use regarding the acceptance of " a hierarchy of rulers in the local Church which ends up limiting the freedom of so many members of the Church."

As for your ABC's; as I said earlier,"Your Bible seems to teach the same as mine!"

Thank you for such an excellent series, which I trust will help many to accept the responsibily before God to do as you have indicated in your next to last sentence.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

Thank YOU for reading and commenting.

I did make it a little like a preacher saying, "Now finally...." and then going on and on and on. But I trust it was worthwhile .

Again, I really do appreciate your insights along the way. Blessings!

Victorious said...

So the rule of church life is really to be the Headship of Christ, the priesthood of all believers, and each member contributing with giftedness and ministry and edifying each other in the process.

Once you have experienced this, you can never go back to a church where the Holy Spirit is quenched in favor of a robotic system that leaves one hungering and thirsting. It then becomes the norm and the sheep know nothing different.

Your series leaves me hoping and praying that more will come to an understanding of what authority is and is not.

Thank you so much, Paul! It blessed my soul!

Paul Burleson said...

Victorious,

You are more than welcome.

I know where you, Aussie J, Gordon, and a few others are concerned, I'm preaching to the choir. But maybe there are a few lurkers about that may see and hear for the first time. I'll trust that to be so.

Tom Ross said...

The trouble that King david got into was after be began to act "God Like." The trouble that comes into curhch life often comes because there are people within the body who begin to display act "God like" attributes.

How does this manifest itself within the life of that church. The person turns away from the Lord and His guidelines for relationship.

How, did the people in David's day join Him in His sin? They too turned away from the Lord because they "loved" David and began to worship Him. As such David stole the "Lamb" from the elderly man and it was for this reason that God called him to account for his actions up to eight years after the event/fall.

God showed eight years of Grace to King David to allow him to repent of his sins before he was challenged about his "sin." David had forgotten all about his sin and his earlier actions had slipped from his mind and recall.

Believing that we know how God would have things done within a church body leads to us begin acting God like and when this starts we have deliberately turned away from God and the manifestations of our sin of turning away from God start to be displayed in our person and can be likened to "power," "control," "perversion," inappropriate sexual liasons, etc. etc.

That was why Jesus said to, "Do as they say, but not as they DO."

When trouble comes a knocking at the door of a church congregation, the issue is not only against the "pastor / elder / deacon but it is also against the whole assembly and repentance is required by all in the fellowship.

God also said that, "when we do his heart's desires and stop pointing our fingers at each other that he will heal us, and raise us up once again to be come a blessing to our community."

Sadly in some congregations this healing process is not allowed to outwork because of pride etc in the hearts of the members.

God is looking for a people who will humble themselves to the point where they willingly circumcise the foreskin of their hearts.

Shalom

Tom Ross