Friday, July 31, 2009


I'm continuing in my "favorites" for the summer thing. This post has drawn more total e-mails, post comments, and phone calls than any I've EVER done. Interesting!! I've added some emphasis and clarity at certain points but the post is basically unchanged.

January 2007

Authority in a local church is a much debated and, as I've discovered of late, a much misunderstood concept. I want to make several personal observations about the biblical understanding of authority in a local fellowship as I see it.

First, there is only one head of the Church/churches 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. There IS only ONE Head of the Church after all and that is Jesus Christ our Lord. [Eph. 4:5,15]

Second, the Head of the Body [Christ] has given an authoritative Word to all the members of the Body. [Universal or local] The Old and New Testaments are that inspired Word with New Covenant people in-particularly bound to the New Testament writings. [Heb. 1:2, Acts 18:28]

Third, all believers are responsible to the Head individually and have a responsibility to each other as members of each other in the body. [Rom. 14:4, Eph. 5:21]

Fourth, all believers are priests and are gifted to minister. Therefore all must take their place among the body members to minister for the good of all. [1 Corinth. 12-14]

Fifth, there are certain gifted ones [both men and women] who become a gift to the body in a unique way. The purpose of these people/gifts is to equip all for ministry. [Eph. 4:11-12]

Sixth, there is no emphasis in the New Testament on "authority" that is derived from an "office." The King James version translates the word "office" in Rom. 11:13, 12:4, and 1Tim 3:1. But in Rom. 11:13 it is the word "diakonia" or "service." In 12:4 it is "praxis" or "action/function." While in 1 Tim. 3:1 "office" is not in the text at all. The verse simply says in the original "if anyone aspires to oversight."[Episkope]

Authority is to be experienced in the assembly because of the gifts and ministries given by the Holy Spirit to and through people. 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 because the Holy Spirit has placed some of them as gifts and has anointed the ministries of those gifts. That is the key to understanding Pastors/Elders and their function. No one has authority BECAUSE they have a stronger personality, knows more Bible, or they hold an office. That is foreign to the New Testament. Remember, even Paul the Apostle had to defend his Apostleship by virtue of it being the work of the Spirit setting him aside for it.

1Tim. 5:17 speaks of those Elders that "give oversight well"...."are worthy of double honor." It is that "give oversight well" that is the reason for any authority. We define it as Holy Spirit anointing. In other words, the anointing of the Spirit makes clear the authority that rests on a ministry done well, not the office holder.


I think we can conclude in all of this that a "one man show" is completely foreign to the New Testament. It may be traditionally Southern Baptist at least over the past one hundred years but It just isn't the New Testament pattern at all.

Further, submission is to be given to any of those who "serve" the body well, whatever area of "service" that might be and regardless of "gender." [Some people believe that the Spirit will never place a woman in the ministry of Pastor/Elder and the BF@M concurs with that. But whether that is true or not, and I have my own views about it, "authority" and "submission" are not "gender based" in the New covenant but "Holy Spirit ministry" based. No one is to be a leader by saying "I'm the Pastor/Elder" or "I have a Seminary degree" or I'm a man."]

Finally, servanthood is the "badge" of Christian living and is to be the overriding characteristic of body-life. If God's people are to ever reflect the biblical relationship of Body/local body to the Head and members to one another as members, servanthood is essential. 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 edifying each other in the process.

Set up any system you wish, any format you desire, any procedure you choose to carry out business, but function under the anointing of the Spirit and serve one another. This must not be 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 authority to be biblical in church life.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I'm not a political animal. That being true, I like to find people who know more about political issues than do I and are able to talk about them better than can I. So here goes.

But first there is a need to understand that I'm presenting this simply as an American citizen concerned about the country I love NOT as a preacher. I don't often speak on political issues much less write on them but believe this is one time I should.

In our present crisis economically as a nation there is much political talk about the good/bad aspects of government intervention in the business life of America. Most agree that it is a move toward socialism albeit some say to only a small degree. Besides, they would say, what's wrong with that?

Some people would argue that socialism helps the poor while others would argue it is anti-American and destructive. Those who view socialism favorably would argue against capitalism because they say it favors the rich and is therefore more destructive than socialism.

I don't really know what to say. I do know what I intuitively think but would not be the best in stating why I think it because of the truth of the first five words of the body of this post.

But I did find this fellow who said something I think is worth hearing. [Obviously it rings my intuitive bell.] Below is a portion of a speech given by Michael Novak on the Virtue of Capitalism. The full speech can be found here...

As you read this I want to say that I desire for it to simply add to the discussion of where we are as a nation and where we perhaps need to be. It's political but we CAN have a civil discussion about things of this nature as well as theology I believe. At least I hope so. What do YOU think?

Wealth @ Virtue--A Moral Case For Capitalism... given in Sri Lanka on January 11 2004 by Michael Novak.

"It is not difficult to understand why the practical case for capitalism is easy to grasp. No other system so rapidly raises up the living standards of the poor, so thoroughly improves the conditions of life, or generates greater social wealth and distributes it more broadly. [Than does capitalism]

In the long competition of the last 100 years, neither socialist nor third-world experiments have performed as well in improving the lot of common people, paid higher wages, and more broadly multiplied liberties and opportunities.

This point needs elaboration since, in Marxist analysis, the only beneficiaries of capitalism are said to be the rich. In actual fact, it is the poor who gain most from capitalism. [Italics mine] That is why the poor have always gravitated toward capitalist countries. That is why my own grandparents (and scores of millions of others) left Europe for America. They sought opportunity, and they found it. Desperately poor on their arrival (just before 1900), they lived to own their own homes, watching their children and grandchildren advancing in income and education. "Give me your tired, your poor. . ." the Statue of Liberty beckoned to the world; and nearly 100 percent of Americans did come to America poor. Today barely over 12 percent of Americans are poor (which is defined as having an income below $18,000 per year for a family of four). That means that 88 percent are not poor, and we still have about 12 percent to help. In 1990, 38 percent of the American poor owned their own homes; 95 percent of the poor had their own television sets; and a poor American was more likely to own an automobile than the average Western European.

Today, the percentage of the American poor who own their own homes has climbed from 38 to 46 percent; more than half own two or more color televisions; almost two-thirds have cable or "dish" TV; three-quarters have a VCR or DVD player. Nearly three quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more. Beyond the poor, half of all families have incomes above $50,000 per year. About 20 percent have incomes above $91,000 per year.

It is sometimes suggested that American blacks are poor. But in the year 2002, 24 percent were poor; over 75 percent were not poor. Half of all black married couple households had incomes over $52,000 per year. The total income of America's 26 million blacks over the age of 15 came to $650 billion in 2002. This is larger than the Gross Domestic Product of all but 15 nations.

This is not to say that the task of eliminating poverty in America (or other capitalist countries) is finished. It isn't. But it is crucial to grasp that the task of capitalism is measured by how well it enriches the poor. To an amazing extent, it does do this. [Italics mine.] I would bet you that the great majority of Americans can remember when their families were poor, two or three generations ago; but they are not poor today.

In the nations of Western Europe and in Japan, the case is similar. So also in South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other newly capitalist countries. Measure capitalism by how well it raises up the poor. That is the test it is designed to meet. Look around the world and see."


Paul B.

Monday, July 27, 2009


This is another post which is among my personal favorites that I've chosen to put up this summer. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. It was first posted on 2/24/07.

"I read the following and was smitten by it so much that I wanted to put it on my blog as a post. I do so with the permission of Charles Roberts who hosts the blog uniquely called "The Blog Itch." It's a play on "scratching where people itch" in discussing things and he does it well, scratching where I itch at least. The incident was relayed to him from the father, who is a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators, of the boy who did what you're about to read. It is just some good stuff that I want to pass along. Thanks Charles for permission to do so. Enjoy. __________________________________________________________________

"Last week, I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said, "God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. Liberty and justice for all! Amen!"

Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!"

Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?" As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer." "Really?" my son asked. "Cross my heart," the man replied. Then, in a theatrical whisper, he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."

Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment, and then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and, without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already." ______________________________________________________________

I agree. Ice cream IS good for the soul. Excuse me while I go feed my soul.

Paul B.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


------------------------JULY 23 2009---------------------

Monday, July 20, 2009


No one will ever find a fellowship where everyone agrees on the non- essentials doctrinally. There are some foundational/core beliefs that any local fellowship would need to agree upon. Things such as the nature of the scriptures, the nature of Christ, the character of God and others. But there are many about which they would have to agree to disagree agreeable. How do you live together with those lesser differences since we all know some make issues over any difference?

I love finding people who do it. I'm posting some information I've discovered about a Church that has, I believe, produced a great example of how to do it. I've deleted any chance of identifying the Church since I don't have permission. I may try and get it, I may not, but this will pass the blogging stink test for stealing material I believe.

I'll begin by showing you what they call their "Policy On Controversial Issues." It simply states......

"The people who make up__________ Church have various theological perspectives and diverse backgrounds. As ________ (our Senior Pastor) says, “We agree on enough to get the job done.” That's our policy. We do not exclude anyone on the basis of a different view on baptism, gifts of the spirit, predestination vs. freewill, or any other matter of honest theological disagreement among members of the Church. The people of___________Church are not connected because we all dot our i's and cross our ts the same theologically, but because we align ourselves with a common vision and mission as Jesus’ disciples in the city of________."

Paul again...neat huh!! The question do they pull this off? I've decided to post only one of several statements they have adopted about controversial issues that can often divide friendships if not congregations. It is a statement about the differing views of marriage generally called complementarianism and egalitarianism. It says.......

"What are the appropriate roles of husband and wife in a Christian marriage? We affirm that biblical paradigm of a God-centered, agape-oriented covenant marriage relationship. We also recognize the disagreement among evangelical Christians regarding the nature of gender roles within marriage. Some believe the Bible teaches a timeless principle of male headship, where headship is defined as the model of servant-leadership exemplified by Jesus Christ. Others believe that the idea of male headship expressed in Scripture is a culturally-conditioned teaching, and that the ideal model of marriage is that of mutual submission and leadership by gifting, within an egalitarian relationship. We believe that, when guided by the principles of agape-love and servant-leadership, either model of gender roles in marriage can serve to foster God-glorifying covenant-marriages.

To that end, we offer the following biblical challenge and encouragement.

(1) To those couples who follow the model of male headship: Husbands strive to avoid both self-centered control and worldly authoritarianism, and seek to exemplify the self-sacrificial servant-leadership demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ toward his bride, the church. Wives, strive to avoid both selfish independence or passive apathy in the marriage, and seek to exemplify the active, passionate submission that characterizes the church's love for its eternal groom, Jesus Christ.

(2) To those couples who follow the egalitarian model: Strive to avoid a marriage characterized by indecision, and seek to lead and/or follow in the various areas of your marriage as God has gifted each of you. In all things, exemplify a heart-attitude of submission toward each other, after the pattern of self-sacrificial servanthood demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ toward our heavenly Father."

Well what do you know!!. Here are some christians banded together in fellowship around a person, the Lord Jesus, and the sharing of His message, instead of a set of rules or positions on every imaginable difference of opinion theologically. Maybe koinonia IS possible in the twenty-first century Church. Just maybe.

Paul B.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


In posting some personal favorites I found something I wrote in October of 2006 and decided to re-post it in the "Personal Favorites" I'm doing this summer. What do you think?

I guess I would need to confess to a transition going on in my own understanding of this gender issue controversy. I’ve had questions and have heard others raise the same questions that, for biblical and personal ethics, I would have to have answers for in order to come down biblically on the side of a male dominated society, home, or church from this Christian’s perspective. I will briefly mention a few of those questions.

My question about the Covenants is one. My understanding of the Covenants requires me to carefully think through the uniqueness of the New Covenant. I see how the Old covenant established between God and Israel was based generally on gender, age, and race or at least evolved into such. So if, as one said, you were an “old Jewish guy” you had it made in the realm of authority. But, I have a question about the New Covenant promised for the latter days and written in hearts, to be ratified by the Blood of Christ. Was it not to be based on something other than gender, age or race and was it not for something other than an “authority” thing? Was it not a servant thing instead so that the greatest in the New Covenant was, in fact, the greatest servant?

Thus “sons and daughters,” when it finally came, were said to be able to prophecy, “young men and old men” were able to dream dreams, and of course the gentiles were included. So it was the work of the Spirit that set all that in motion with His more than adequate authority. It was NOT people in an office or a sex, age, or race thing that were inherently authoritative. Could it be that things are to continue in that fashion when the text is truly understood?

I have a question about Pheobe and some other women in the New Testament. Was not she said to be a servant? It is translated “deacon” when used of a man and would not be deaconness since there was no feminine for of the word. I’m wondering if this was more a King James era thing.

One other woman was said to be a “helper” [different word] which is translated when used of men…”overseer." This is spoken of the woman who ministered with Paul. Did she give oversight to his ministry? Or is it again a King James thing? Or is there a New Covenant thing presented in the text when carefully studied? Just wondering.

I have my 1 Timothy 2:12 question. Paul used a the word “authority” here that is used no where else in scripture. Not even in the Septuagint. It was, I have found, a street word. [Sorry, I’m not at my library at the moment to give specifics.] It was a word with perhaps sexual overtones, so could it be that it makes sense for Paul, under inspiration, to say this to the pastor [Timothy] of a church filled with women saved out of the mystery religions which used sexuality to control men. Old patterns don’t die easily even after you become a believer. I would think Paul had a need to address it, if this is, in fact, what he’s saying…”I suffer not a woman to take charge over a man in an unseemly [my toned down word] manner. Good advise for all women of all ages in church life but a sure good word to pastor Timothy and the church in Ephesus.

Then there is that ever present question about Genesis chapter one. I do believe the pattern was established in Genesis 1 where “He said to “them” have dominion and to “them” to multiply and to “them” to care for the garden. It looks to me to be at least a partnership going on. Of course, the fall messed it up and both now try to “be in charge,” her by “desiring her husband” [the meaning is not Godly but taking charge] but, rain on that, he will “rule” over her. [the meaning is as a despot.] So both are pretty well messed up by now.

But hang on, God straightened it up in Ephesians 5 where all are told to submit to one another and to serve one another in the power of the Spirit as they are walking in Him. [It's the New Covenant remember. ]

It’s the authority thing that keeps throwing me. What does all this mean in the realm of authority? I understand things in servanthood terms. I heard one fellow say one the Gen.1/Ephensians 5 passages present a graceful way of living but the “who’s the boss” thing [Gen. 2@3] presents a curseful way of living. Christians are to live in grace [Of course.] and NOT according to the curse. [Of course not.] I wonder if he might be right?

Then there is my final question about this "woman being created second" thinking. I haven’t yet grasp this thing of man being created first and woman coming from man and how that sets up an authority thing. No doubt he was and she did, but since that original creation moment, every man has come from a woman. Not a lot of bragging room there.

Of course they, [the mystery religions of Ephesus] did believe woman was created first by their gods and were far superior to males. Paul was sure setting them straight on creation and the craziness of this “woman is superior” stuff. Now if we could just get believers to get as straight on men not being superior either just because they were created first. Different of course, I thank the Lord for that. Different capabilities too. I’ve not yet given birth to a child. But in Kingdom stuff the Spirit is the gifter, decider, authority, power, and sender of of all ministry. At least it seems to me.

What I have said has all been said by those better than I am at explaining things. Right now I am just presenting some questions SOMEBODY will have to help me through before I can come down on the side of male authority because of the male gender.

Loving people who differ in opinions about it all is no problem for me. But being told I'm not a good baptist unless I hold one or the other is a bit much for me personally. [Being the good baptist I am.]

So, without my being dogmatic and until I get some adequate answers for my questions, I’ll trust my local fellowship and myself to study, dialogue, decide, and follow the Lord as we see and hear Him, all the while walking in love and in step presenting the gospel with others who may disagree with me on issues like these…being the good baptists we are.

Paul B

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


I've been reading on the blogs a great deal lately about how the Church is going to have to come to grips with the homosexual issue in a fashion that will allow us to minister to people who engage in that behavior without condoning such behavior. I agree. We DO need to think things through toward that goal. Not only homosexual activity but adultery, fornication, pre-marital sex and all other sexual behaviors that are clearly unacceptable from a scriptural perspective need some additional thought. There has to be a way to minister without condemning the person or condoning such behavior.

Rather than try to state a solution, which I don't have, I would like to give a bit of a report of my personal journey with one who was involved in such a lifestyle. I am not presenting this as a cure-all or even the best way to handle it. It is simply a word snap-shot of one experience [among many] that I've had with someone I have developed a deep love for and a friendship with in days gone by.

It started years ago when I moved to a new pastoral field. it was my first month or two of ministry. I had concluded the morning message and was standing at the door greeting people. A young college student came by and refused to shake my hand. I didn't know him nor did I understand his attitude. I'd said nothing that I could see as controversial to a baptist crowd much less offensive.

That afternoon my phone rang. it was this young man. After berating me, along with all other baptist preachers, for my rigid views and my ignorance of life in general, he demanded to meet with me that afternoon in my office. I told him I couldn't because I was going to watch the Dallas Cowboys football game that afternoon [I don't do demand well] but would be glad to meet with him the next day during office hours. [Remember I had no clue what his problem could be,] He agreed and we met on Monday afternoon.

AS we started our conversation he once again began berating me in a loud voice and angrily proceeded to question my understanding of all things pertaining to life. I listened. I agreed with some of what he said and told him so. He vented and vented until it was gone and he began to calm down to some degree.

Then, for some reason I still don't fully understand, I asked him "What's her name?" He said, "Whose name?" I said, "The girl you're having sex with at the present time." He got angry again and began the berating all over. But, again, for whatever reason, I said, "I'm sorry, what's HIS name?" He stopped. He stared. He dropped his head. I waited. He then raised his head to proudly say he was in an on-going relationship with a prominent man in the town in which he lived.

That started a whole new direction of conversation as we began discussing whether same sex sex was right or wrong, especially if you believed one was born that way. We met the next day and the next rehashing the same conversation.

Finally, on the third day I said, "Let me ask this, could we agree that what you think or what I think about any issue isn't really our issue? What God says is however, if He says anything about it." So we agreed to search the scriptures and compare notes. [I had already asked him about his relationship with the Lord and he had given as clear a conversion statement as I've ever heard and I couldn't sake him about his belief that he had, in fact, trusted Christ as Lord and Savior. This in spite of my reasoning that obedience is a real part of the true Christian life. His retort was that he believed he WAS obeying and I had misunderstood the scriptures.]

So for two days he searched the scriptures and then came prepared as did I and we both laid our findings on the table as we met again. I told him that I personally had two ideas that I held to and desired to tell him about them before we began looking at the text in depth. I told him no one had been able to shake me away from them yet. He agreed to my stating them.

One was that the scriptures are our ONLY written standard of behavior from God for believers. Culture is not. When the scriptures speak we do or don't do, as the case may be, whatever they speak about. When the scriptures are silent or are less than clear on some issue [non-salvific] we allow for individual views on whatever is being said. Good people on both sides of conflicting interpretations should always give us pause about being dogmatic. Culture may have any opinion it chooses on any subject and it is, for us, correct only in-so-far as scripture does or does not shine light on it.

The second idea I told him I held to is that no christian should ever identify themselves by their bad behavior, if the scriptures truly call it bad, but by what the Lord calls that christian. So I couldn't identify any christian as a homosexual because to do so would be to call that person something Jesus does not. He calls that person redeemed, holy, a new person from what they were before they became a christian. I could only say they were a christian committing homosexual acts. [The same is true for adultery or lying for that matter.] I believe, as a christian, we are to live in light of who we are, according to our new nature, in Christ.

Now it is true an unbeliever CAN be identified with those acts [as with adultery and lying] which is testimony to their need of a fundamental change of heart and a new nature which is produced by God's Grace in a Christ. [Becoming a christian.]

We settled the first after looking extensively at the text. We both had to agree the clear scriptural statement was that such a behavior was sin as was the other mentioned sexual activity also sin. He saw he could believe otherwise if he wanted but not based upon scripture.

When he saw the second, conversation ensued and for hours we talked. He was, in his own mind and conscience, a believer in Christ. So, what were his options? He could live calling himself a homosexual and deny who Jesus says he is...OR...he could live committing sinful acts and grieve the Spirit while living in personal grief himself... [ Like 11Peter 2:7 indicates Lot lived grieved.]...OR...he could choose to repent [change his mind and direction] and choose otherwise. I told him I loved him period and WHATEVER he chose would not change that. But his choices would alter his ability to enjoy the Grace by which he had been redeemed, if he was, in fact, redeemed. I'm able to report to you that he chose to call himself what the scriptures called him, a new creation in Christ, repent, [change his mind and direction] and move on in grace.

Today he is married, [I performed the ceremony] a father, a deacon, and has led praise and worship for some bible conferences I've preached. He is a brother and a friend. Have there been strong temptations along the way? Absolutely. But who he is in Christ was the ground from which he chose each time. Which, by the way, is the same ground for the choices I've had to make in my areas of temptation.

I want to close with this statement. What I'm about to say isn't easy to say because of the self serving ends it could have as motivation. But I choose to trust you as to believing what my motives might be and I choose to recognize it is ALL a work of the power and grace of God.

Things that young man said that made a difference for him.

1. There was a willingness to love him and respect his views on issues without agreeing with them.

2. He was moved by my willingness to hug him after each session. He said he feared being repulsive to christians and was angry assuming they would be. He said he saw I was repulsed by my own sin not his.

3. He eventually saw that were one to really believe that a person is a new creation in Christ and any battle we have with sin is because of the residue of our old "self" [Who we were before coming to Christ and being made new in Him.] which continues to haunt us and will until Jesus comes, one can really live in victory over any sin. [The bible calls it the "flesh."] Who we are "in Christ" is the truth about us personally, NOT the struggles we might have with any kind of sin.

4. I was willing to call him a "brother" as we related and seached the scriptures.

Were we to boil it all down, as I conclude this, I believe what the Church is going to have to have in order to truly minister to people who are involved in homosexuality [or any other sin problem] is a heavy dose of a willingness to believe and express the Grace of God and a heavy dose of the kind of love with which we are loved. That's the power of true love and love really does cover a multitude of sins. The Cross is the place of judgment on sin and Jesus is at the place of mercy today. [The mercy seat in heaven.] Our message is to be the finished work of the Cross and an expression of the mercy we are being shown in our lives by our Lord.

Paul B.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


When Paul Spoke of "this ministry" in 11 Corinthians 4:1 he was speaking of the transforming work of the Spirit in ALL believers as mentioned in 11 Corinthians 3:18. To Paul "the ministry" was not something God called him "to do." Rather it was something that was to reveal what God had done in him by His Grace through the Person of Christ.

It was the same for our Lord when He began a three year ministry. It wasn't that He had come to a time and place where He did something "for the Father." Jesus had come to the place where what Had been done in Him was now on public display and it was a ministry that was simply putting before the people what God was about in Him.

"The ministry" is always this only. It isn't, as we seem to think in our present day of professional ministry, a "decision" to go into the ministry. It is, rather, that ALL believers are possessors of the Treasure of Christ that is to be on display in frail human vessels. [11 Corinthians 4:7] Thus, all believers are ministers of the Kingdom news. [Gospel]

The significance of the vessel is never the vessel, whether it be one's age, race or gender. The significance of the vessel is the Treasure there-in.

The significance of preparation for ministry is never the qualifications through training [Seminary] or authority bestowed because of office. [Pastor] It is the significance of what has been done in the vessel [believer] by the Spirit that creates a Christ-consciousness in that vessel, whether man or woman, where He reigns as Lord, and the communication of that reality.

It was the devils who said "Jesus I know." It is THAT which becomes the authority of ministry and especially so when the Body of Christ gathers. We will "know it's Jesus" too. "Who are you?" SHOULD be the question asked by all, not just the devils, when someone tries to minister otherwise.

It is, in fact, the breaking down of the vessel, instead of the building up of the vessel, that is needed for true ministry to be performed which the troubles and difficulties that came to Paul reveal in 11 Corinthians 4:10-12. So a broken and flawed vessel is the place where the Treasure [Jesus] is actually magnified. This, contrary to present day popular opinion, is the true minister, not the one gifted, trained, talented, and capable of presenting truth in a spell binding fashion. It is, rather, the one broken, shattered, and exhibiting the true recovery of Grace that is seen as the true minister scripturally. All believers are to be that minister.

Each christian is that vessel. Each vessel is to reveal that Treasure. Each person is a minister when this is real and is happening. All believers are in "the ministry" though they may provide a living for themselves in many ways. Some may even be supported by a local assembly. But their authority is to only truly come in this way. Not because of an "office" they hold.

Paul Burleson