PART 13 CHURCH TEACHINGS
PART 13 CHURCH TEACHINGS
To Learn about Teachings That Will Inhibit a Believer from Growing Spiritually
Doctrines of Destruction
A. The Teachings and Decisions from Leadership Cannot be Questioned.
I can’t begin to tell you how dangerous this teaching is not only concerning our spiritual growth but our very physical welfare. There are some teachers of the Word of God who claim that every word they say is anointed (received directly from the person of the Holy Spirit) such that whatever is commanded is to be obeyed without question. Where do they derive this kind of perspective from? Believe it or not, it does have a Biblical basis. However, does it have the same relevance for the New Testament saint?
In my younger years, following my conversion, I became involved in a non-denominational faith that I was and still am thankful for. I learned that I am a new creature in Christ. I learned that Christ finished the Father’s work for all mankind on the cross. I learned to rely on the Holy Spirit. And I learned that God wants to be ever present in my life.
However, there were times when I would hear certain teachings that just didn’t seem right. In some cases, the assembly were asked to sell their real estate holdings and give all of it to the church. There were stories of certain church members, some of whom that were in leadership that held a different perspective on a certain non-foundational Biblical topic other than the doctrinal platform of the church and were approached and asked to change their view or leave. Questioning leadership about areas of sinful actions that they were involved with were usually responded to by those that asked them with sharp rebuke. For me, this was very confusing.
As a young Christian, I didn’t have enough of a solid foundation in doctrine in order to be able to discern Biblically what was Scriptural or not. And the last thing I wanted to do was to get leadership mad at me. I enjoyed what I perceived as God’s working in the ministry (e.g. Bible studies, children’s ministry, street witnessing, Bible school, Christian radio, etc.).
However, the day arrived where all this came to a head. Many of the leaders whom I had known from when I got involved had left the ministry. Attempts to rewrite church theology was thwarted. Accusations were made about those who tried to express their concerns and see changes be made that they were not supportive or faithful to the ministry.
How could a church that was so fruitful on the one hand, become so oppressive on the other? This is what we are about to take a look at in this study. Unless a believer is solidly grounded in Scripture, it might be difficult to understand what were the factors that were behind what I would call an unreasonable use of power.
In the book of 1 Peter, there is are some verses which exemplifies this sentiment. Please go to chapter 5.
Elders, feed the flock of God which is among you
1 Peter 5:1-3
1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
The apostle Peter is addressing the elders (pastors) of those churches made up of Christian Jews, who are living in foreign countries thus being strangers to their native land. In his address, he contrasts those qualities of leadership that are God-centered and those qualities of leadership that are self-centered. Let’s begin with those qualities that are God-centered.
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
An elder is to care for the church over which they are called to preside, i.e., as a shepherd cares for his flock. A shepherd should: protect his sheep from thieves and marauders; go before the flock and search out the land for grazing making sure that there was nothing there to harm them (e.g. poisonous plants; dangerous animals; snakes; pits; etc.); seek out a wayward sheep and give it personal attention; discipline a sheep that was too rebellious; carry a sheep if got injured; and at the close of each day would examine each sheep and anoint their bruises with healing oil and remove briars from their wool.160 They would be characterized in their care for the well-being of the flock by being willingly (according to God’s will); of a ready mind (cheerfully; from the promptings of divine love), and as being ensamples to the flock. What are ensamples?
Ensamples are those who imitate the character of Christ in their life. They live in such a way to be emulated by others. They are as those whose authority is by influence of reason, persuasion, and example.161 And they are also as those who feed them with knowledge and understanding?162 Jeremiah 3:15.
Then Peter conveyed to them what should not characterize their care for the spiritual well-being of the flock. Their spiritual care for the flock should be not by constraint (not by compulsion), and not for filthy lucre (to not take care of the believers merely for the sake of a salary, but from a real desire to serve). Then he makes this final comment as to what we are talking about here. And that pastors should not be lords over God’s heritage (God’s possession; the church). The words lords over have a few meanings. This refers to someone who exercises unreasonable power over others. Someone who is constantly shouting orders. Someone who exercises dominion. Someone who exerts strict control over. Someone who is oppressive and unjustly severe.
This doesn’t mean to say that there won’t be times, when a pastor or anyone in leadership has to make difficult decisions. There could be an instance, when a believer no longer believes in a foundational truth of the faith (e.g. the deity of Christ; the trinity; the resurrection of Christ; etc.). Another occurrence might be that of someone in the assembly evidencing an egregious sin (e.g. adultery, fornication, homosexuality, etc.), which needs to be addressed.
So, when someone in leadership emphatically proclaims that their teachings and decisions cannot be questioned, what might their Biblical basis be for supporting such a pronouncement?
a. The first thing we will take a look at is, how do they perceive themselves in the eyes of God? Let’s begin by going to the book of Exodus.
Lord said … I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say
3:2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
When Moses was keeping his father in law’s sheep in Midian, an angel of the Lord appeared to him out of the midst of a burning bush.
3:10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
The angel conveyed to Moses that He has seen the affliction of His people and would like him to bring them out from their slavery to a land flowing with milk and honey by going to Pharaoh and asking him for their release of three days into the wilderness so that they may sacrifice unto their God.
4:12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
As soon as Moses heard that he would have to go before Pharaoh and speak, he freaked out. You see, he had an issue with stuttering, and thought that this should disqualify him from being the one chosen to undertake this directive. But God told him, I will take care of that issue and will teach you what you should say (I will tell you what to say" at the right time163).
What someone in leadership might take from God’s response to Moses is that like him God will let him/her know what to say, when the time comes. And if this is indeed the case, then those in leadership can’t be questioned for what they say because God gave them the words to speak. Another example like this one is found in the book of 2 Samuel.
And Nathan said to the king
Suggested Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-17
5 Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?
King David is thinking about the fact that the ark of the covenant was located within the curtains of a portable tent-like structure called the Tabernacle. His desire was for a permanent dwelling to contain the ark. He conveyed this sentiment to one of the prophets of Israel named Nathan. That night, the prophet received a direct word from God. The words found close to the beginning of this direct revelation were Thus saith the Lord.
There it is. At various times, God spoke by direct revelation to certain leaders (e.g. Moses, Joshua, the prophets, the kings of Israel, etc.). Whether this was to provide an answer in regard to making a pivotal decision. Whether this was an answer to prayer. Whether this was to declare to the children of Israel God’s instructions, they were to respond to what they heard without complaining or disobedience.
By using this perspective, a leader in the New Testament church might conclude that as the children of Israel were to be obedient to their leaders so should the assembly of believers be submissive to the spiritual leaders of the church (e.g. apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers) without questioning.
What else might seem to support a leaders’ view that what they say goes?
b. This has to do with what verses are used to support a Biblical perspective on any particular topic.
There is a saying that goes something like, the Bible can say anything we want it to say. This is actually a true statement. This holds true for us as well as for those in leadership. Another avenue that could be used by those in leadership to support their assumption that they have absolute authority as to a doctrinal position or decision is whether they use Old Testament verses and subsequently Old Testament perceptions to provide a narrative as to how a New Testament doctrine should be translated. Those leaders who use this approach are called non-dispensationalists. This means that they can use any verse or verses from the Old Testament to perpetuate a doctrinal position that must be followed by the assembly of believers in the New Testament church. Let’s give you one example of what I mean. Please go to the book of Psalms.
Against thee and thee only have I sinned
Suggested Reading: Psalm 51:1-4
This is a Psalm of David, when Nathan the Prophet came to him, after he had sexual relations with a married woman named Bathsheba. Some commentators say that 9 months had elapsed after David’s elicit relationship with Bathsheba and his directive to have her husband, Uriah, killed in battle; and still he had not repented of his sins of adultery and murder. The murderous act that David committed displeased the Lord. So, He decided to send the prophet Nathan to tell him that there would be consequences for his actions:
~ Evil will arise against him from his own house.
~ His many wives will have relations with others.
~ His child with Bathsheba will die.
2 Samuel 12:13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
David responded and finally repented for his transgressions and the Lord granted him mercy by not inflicting upon him the penalty of death.
Psalm 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
And then he made this incredible statement as to whom he is accountable for in respect to the sins he had committed. He said that against God, and God only had he sinned. He apparently wasn’t responsible to confess his sin to Bathsheba for his indiscretion of taking her for himself. Neither was he responsible for going to her deceased husband’s family and confess sorrow for his actions. And neither did he declare to the nation his egregious sins, and express contrition for what he had done.
As we can see, a New Testament leader might take these verses and this approach in respect to the committing of their own sin against someone in the assembly. Let’s say a leader has had an affair with a fellow believer’s wife, and the husband finds out about it and decides to try to address the matter.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
When the leader is approached by the husband alone, his response to this inquiry might be to mention Psalms 51:4 and say that he is only accountable to God for discipline. And second, he could also say that the word brother in verse 15 only refers to a fellow believer and not someone in leadership. So, therefore this would substantiate his perspective that the offended husband has no Scriptural basis to address his or any leader’s sin. He might further offer the husband advice give the matter over to God to address.
There could be one more avenue that a leader could use to support his/her claim that the words and decisions from their mouth are from God.
~ Their words and decisions can appear justified by using one verse or one section of Scripture from the New Testament.
Please go to the book of 1 Corinthians.
Be ye followers of me
Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-16
6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
Paul was addressing one of many issues which were going on in the church at Corinth. This one had to do with their perception about those in leadership along with their inclination to listen to the teachings of many instructors instead of following those like himself who were identified as being spiritual fathers.
As far as their perception about those in leadership, some of them were evaluating ministers by their own personal preferences and prejudices which could be in regard to talents, gifts, knowledge, etc., instead of a mindset that was based on the Word of God. And if it’s true that a minister differs from another in these things, then Paul stated that this comes from God and therefore gratitude toward Him should be expressed for such. However, whatever it is that has been received from Him shouldn’t be used as the basis for a leader to boast or likewise for those who follow the leader to boast.
15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
What did the apostle Paul mean when he said that the Corinthian believers had become followers of ten thousand instructors and no longer of those considered as fathers? The words ten thousand instructors refer to the many instructors during the culture whom were known as Paedagoguses. A Paedagogus was a slave to whom boys were entrusted on leaving the care of the females, which was somewhere about their sixteenth year. He was often a foreigner, sometimes educated and refined, but often otherwise; for Plutarch complains that seamen, traders, usurers, and farmers are engaged in this capacity. The office was one of general guardianship, not of instruction, though sometimes the Paedagogus acted as teacher. He accompanied the boy to school, carrying his books, etc., and attended him to the gymnasium and elsewhere.164 To emphasize, what I wanted you to remember was that this instructor accompanied the child to school but was not their special teacher. Who is a special teacher?
A special teacher was alluded to by Paul as one whom he called, a father. This was someone who caused the Christians at Corinth to have a personal relationship with Christ through the presentation of the gospel and their response to it, as was not the case for the myriad of instructors who were simply guardians. And as one of these fathers, the apostle himself made the following statement.
16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
With that said, there are those in leadership who because they believe they are God’s ultimate spokesperson would translate the word followers as those in the assembly who were to follow their church leaders exclusively.
If we were to hear such teachings from the pulpit, I’m sure that we might agree that those who are called to any of the leadership positions (e.g. apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers) in the New Testament church are to be obeyed unequivocally when they bring forth a message or decision that they allege is from God. Right?
How would we know that what they have said in their teaching or the decisions they are asking the assembly to implement are not from God?
We wouldn’t. What could we do that might help us in this regard? The answer is, study the Word. Pray to God for guidance or direction in this area. Get tapes, books, videos, etc. that pertain to the topic of the teaching or the decision to be made. However, now that you are reading this study, the good news is that the answer to this question is what we will take a look at next. So, stay right here and read along.
Is there any Scriptural basis for not supporting the conjecture by leadership that their teachings and decisions must be obeyed and cannot be questioned?
a. Moses is not a type for a leader in the New Testament church being a mediator between the assembly of believers and God the Father.
Let’s begin by going to the book of 1 Corinthians.
And were all baptized unto Moses
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
The Jews were under obligation to Moses in the experiences of the Exodus such as when they passed through the Red Sea as it rose in walls on each side providing safe passage from the ensuing Egyptians, and when they were under the cloud, the "Shechinah" - the visible symbol of the divine presence and protection that attended them out of Egypt. This went before them by day as a cloud to guide them, and by night it became a pillar of fire to give them light.165 What we could say about Moses is that he could be considered as the mediator between them and their God (Jehovah).
However, the insinuation that Moses is a type/mediator of someone who is in the leadership position of a New Testament church and that likewise as the Jews were under obligation to obey his directives with absolute devotion, so should the Christian be under obligation to those in authority (e.g. apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers) with regard to their teachings and decisions. If the leader in the New Testament is not a mediator between the assembly and God the Father, then who is? Please go to the book of 1 Timothy and we’ll find out.
God our Saviour who will have all men to be saved
1 Timothy 2:3-6
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
The apostle Paul is conveying to Timothy that it is God’s (the Fathers’) desire for all men not only to be saved but to come to the knowledge (advanced knowledge) of the truth (doctrine; an organized body of Christian teaching or doctrine166). Coming to the full knowledge of the faith is not only for their spiritual growth but also so that they would be able to recognize false teaching and not be led astray.
Then Paul declared as to who it is that is the basis that would allow someone to have the opportunity to be saved. He said that this is because of the one who is the mediator between God the Father and mankind, and that is Christ Jesus. The word mediator means a middle person, one whose office it is to reconcile two parties at enmity; … a peace-maker. God was offended with the crimes of men; to restore them to his peace, Jesus Christ was incarnated. But this reconciliation required a sacrifice on the part of the peace-maker or mediator167, which He accomplished.
We can conclude that those in leadership are not the mediator between God the Father and mankind. However, we must consider that certain things which took place in the Old Testament also took place in the New Testament as pertaining to Scripture disclosed in the book of 1 Corinthians such as revelation, the act of God the Holy Spirit imparting to the Bible writers, truth incapable of being discovered by man's unaided reason (2:10-12); inspiration, the act of God the Holy Spirit enabling the Bible writers to write down in God-chosen words, infallibly, the truth revealed (2:13).168 So, what I’m saying is there were times when leadership spoke words given to them by direct revelation. The question that now remains is once the canon of Scripture was completed were the words spoken then and now by those in leadership still received by direct revelation? In order to find this out, please go to the book of 1 John.
You need not that any man teach you
1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Before we translate this verse, we are told according to Ephesians 4:11-12 that God calls and qualifies some believers to the office gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor teacher for the collective purpose of the perfecting (for the mending, repair, or correcting all that is deficient; to restore to a proper place) of the saints; for the work of the ministry (in order to do what they should do as believers; spiritual service of an official character); for the edifying (through instruction of divine things) of the body of Christ so that every member might become mature or fully grown. As we might assume that in order for those in leadership to be able to carry out the purposes mentioned, they themselves would need to have been taught by others of divine things, would need to have learned how to address the weaknesses of their flesh by confession and recovery, and would need to have been involved in ministry work. You can’t give to others, what you don’t have or what you haven’t received. With that said, let’s translate the verse from 1 John.
The anointing, the person of the Holy Spirit, which you have received of Christ abides (has taken up permanent residency) in you. And you need not that any man teaches you, meaning that no teacher, even a God-appointed one, is the only and ultimate source of the saint's instruction.169 The same anointing, the Holy Spirit, teaches you all things (under the guidance of the Spirit you must test the teaching of men as you search the Bible for yourself (cf. Acts 17:11)170; he endues us with judgment and discernment, lest we should be deceived by lies171). This doesn’t tell us as to how much of what a leader says is directly given to them by the Holy Spirit, but what it does say is that not everything they teach and the decisions they impose are from the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
With what we have just learned, a better definition of the anointing can now be enumerated as to the words conveyed by those in the leadership positions of the church. As to the words spoken, the words are merely men’s words, but the Holy Spirit is especially present to help our infirmity in conveying the best sense or meaning. Furthermore, it is impossible for God to be present in that which is untrue or unbiblically impossible that false and unscriptural teaching be anointed teaching at the same time.172
I know we have covered a lot and have mentioned some new terminology. But the response wouldn’t be complete without adding this extra tidbit. I think we agree that at times those who were in a leadership position in the church that were mentioned as speaking God’s Word to the people could actually be speaking by means of direct revelation, where we could define the word revelation as meaning something not known to them, a new truth previously unveiled and eventually written down in the New Testament canon. However, once the canon of Scripture was completed was it possible for a leader to continue to speak by divine revelation? Please go to the book of 1 Corinthians.
He that is spiritual
1 Corinthians 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
This is an interesting verse in that it tells us that he which is spiritual discerns (evaluates) the things and people of the Spirit. What does it mean when someone is referred to as being spiritual? The word spiritual will help us to clarify whether a leader in the church can continue to declare that they have received direct revelation from the Holy Spirit. This word means one who is under the influence of the Spirit. It can also mean someone to whom divine insight is imparted.173 I don’t know if you ever heard of this before, but there are two words that can refer to the impartation of insight by means of the Holy Spirit? The first word is illumination and the second is rhema. What does the word rhema mean? Rhema can also mean the word which the Lord speaks the second time.174
So, if someone in leadership receives from the Spirit a verse to convey or divine insight about a word or words in a verse or section of Scripture, this could be termed as receiving a rhema or illumination from the Holy Spirit. When this occurs, the terminology of saying that a believer has received revelation is no longer appropriate.
Now, let’s address the second aspect of this study as pertaining to using Old Testament verses to provide a perspective for New Testament doctrine.
b. In most cases, the verses that are used to support a doctrinal position on salvation and sanctification for the New Testament believer should not come from the Old Testament.
This might appear to be a surprising statement, so let me try to clarify what I mean. There are certain Scriptural studies that use verses from the Old Testament that will enhance our learning about a Biblical topic. For instance, if we were doing a study on God’s attributes, verses from the Old Testament could definitely illustrate these in a more realistic way because of the many stories that are recorded there. Another consideration for using verses from the Old Testament would be in the realm of doing a study on prophecy (future events that have come to pass and future events that have not come to pass). And still further when trying to get a fuller understanding as to why a Savior/Messiah was needed, the Old Testament can provide a wealth of knowledge on this. One more which we shouldn’t forget are the examples of those Old Testament saints who confided in God amidst trials and persecutions and God’s faithfulness in response, which gives us hope that He will do the same for us.
And while there could be a few or many more reasons as to why Old Testament verses could teach us, there is clearly one thing that will not help in respect to a New Testament believer’s salvation and sanctification. Do you know what this is? When I say it, please hold onto your hat. It’s all that pertains to the tenets of the Mosaic Law. Ah, Oh. This is the institution that the Jews were given to obey by God both for their spiritual welfare and physical well-being.
If we were to take a general snapshot of what the Mosaic Law pertained to, then this is what we would be referring to.
Statutes - The Spiritual Code - the ordinances of the Law (e.g. the Tabernacle, the Holy Days, the Offerings, the High Priest, the Meat Offering, the Trespass Offering, the Levites, etc. Exodus 26-31; 35-40; Leviticus 1-24; Deuteronomy 16)
Commandments - The Moral Code which included not only the 10 commandments called the Decalogue (e.g. honor thy father and thy mother…Exodus 20:12-17) but more than 100 other commandments (e.g. thou shalt have no other gods before me; the Sabbath,…thou shalt not do any work…; thou shalt truly tithe… Exodus 20:12-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Deuteronomy 12; Deuteronomy 14:22).
Judgments - The Social Code which are the laws belonging to civil government. (e.g. dietary, marriage, military, conservation, etc. along with the related consequences (punishment). Deuteronomy 14-28
Testimonies - The laws directing the commemoration of certain events (e.g. Seventh year Sabbath rest; the 50th year, the year of Jubilee; the ordinance of the Passover; the feast of unleavened bread; etc.). Exodus 12:43-50; Numbers 28: 16-25; Deuteronomy 25-26
You might respond by asking what Scriptural proof do you have to support this conjecture?
Please go to the book of Acts.
Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Suggested Reading: Acts 15:1-30
1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
24a Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised,…
There were certain Jewish Christians, who contended with Paul and Barnabas, teaching that the Gentiles must be circumcised in order to be saved. In other words, what they were saying was, "A Gentile must first become a Jew before he can become a Christian! It is not sufficient for them simply to trust Jesus Christ…"175 It is obvious that they wanted to incorporate some of the aspects of the Mosaic Law into the requisites of repentance and belief for salvation for the Gentile believers of the Christian faith. To say this in another way, repentance and belief were not enough to receive the Holy Spirit along with additional blessings.
So, Paul and Barnabas decided to go to the Jerusalem church in order to discuss this matter with the apostles and elders, who were ministering there. After much discussion, a conclusion on the matter was arrived at, which stated that an epistle would to be written and given in the care of four men, Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas, whom would take it and read it before the assemblies of the churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia informing them as to what obligations the Gentile believers needed to abide by. But if not for salvation, what about adherence to the Mosaic Law for spiritual growth?
24b and keep the law…
But there was something else that these Christian Jews believed and that was after someone is saved by circumcision, they must keep the Mosaic Law. Another way of saying this was, whatever the protocol was for a New Testament Gentile believer to grow spiritually, the keeping of the Law was also to be a part of this process.
What was the answer to these declarations? Did a Gentile convert need to keep the Sabbath; did they need to tithe, did they need to attend the synagogue, did they need to keep the Ten Commandments, or any other aspect of the Mosaic Law? The answer to this was the same answer as to whether a Gentile believer needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. Are you ready for it?
24c …to whom we gave no such commandment:
My perception of what this response says is that a Gentile believer was not to obey the Law for salvation or sanctification. None of the tenets of the Mosaic Law are to be included in the salvation process of repentance and faith. And none of the tenets of the Mosaic Law can be included in the sanctification process of Spiritual Growth doctrines, some of which are confession of sin and recovery, the renewal of the mind, and being under the rule of the Spirit.
What about the Jewish Christians? I think the message was pretty clear. What is good for the Gentile believers is what is good for the Jewish Christians. However, this doesn’t mean that the Jews could no longer keep any aspect of the Law in respect to the Messiah/Savior, whom they now believe in, and can subsequently use these teachings as a schoolmaster (the Law was like a person who was making us behave176) to bring others to Christ. I hope this helps to inform us as to the place of the Old Testament Scriptures as to what they can provide Christians with aside from salvation and sanctification.
Are you ready to look at the final aspect of this study as to whether the implication that one verse or section of Scripture could be used to support the conjecture that a leader’s teachings and decisions cannot be questioned?
c. One verse or section of Scripture should not be used to support any doctrinal perspective or decision, let alone the conjecture that a New Testament leaders’ teachings and decisions must be obeyed and not be questioned under any circumstances.
Let’s take a look at those Scriptures which indicate that whatever any leader teaches or decides should be Scripturally examined. We’ll begin by going to the book of Acts.
And searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so
Suggested Reading: Acts 17:10-14
Paul and Silas have left Thessalonica and have arrived in the city of Berea. They entered the synagogue and preached unto them the gospel. What they found was that the Bereans were willing to listen and examine as to whether the promises and types (of the Old Testament) corresponded with the alleged fulfilment in the person, works, and sufferings of Jesus Christ.177
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
They made a careful and exact research against the Scriptures daily in order [to] see if what Paul had said agreed with what the Scriptures said.178 In like manner, you and I should make a careful and exact research against the Scriptures concerning what has been taught by those in leadership. And when we do this, hopefully we will incorporate a process known as hermeneutics while operating under the guidance of the Spirit. This protocol refers to Scriptural interpretation based on an analysis of grammatical features whether of Hebrew for the Old Testament Scriptures, the Koine Greek for the New Testament Scriptures, and the Aramaic for both the Old and New Testaments along with the historical background (the cultural background) of the text.
What we are going to take a look at next is another verse that affirms the conjecture that a believer should examine Scripturally what someone else says or decides based on Scripture, whether they are a Christian leader, non-leader, or even someone from a different faith. Please go to the book of 1 Corinthians.
He that is spiritual
1 Corinthians 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
There is someone who is able to judge (discern) all things spiritual, and that is he who is spiritual (one who is under the influence of the Spirit; to whom divine insight is imparted179).
There is not much left to say.
A verse we will take a look at next clearly indicates that whether we are called to a leadership position in the church or not, if we learn how to walk in the Spirit, then God will put his laws into our minds and write them in our hearts. We will find this verse in the book of Hebrews.
I will put my laws into their mind and write them in their hearts
Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
Those who are being referred to here are spiritual Israel, i.e., those who are born-again. While a contrast is being made between the Old and New Covenants, for those Jews who repented and believed in Christ will have His laws put into their mind, and written in their hearts. What does this mean? The word laws mean that they would not be mere external observances, but would affect the conscience and the heart.
Some would say these are the laws from the Old Covenant, those given under the institution of the Mosaic Law. However, what is made clear is that the New Covenant has different laws. These are mentioned in the book of James.
James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
The word law means teaching. And the words perfect law of liberty means [or, teaching] that sets us free from sin and death.180 The idea being expressed here is that no one has exclusivity in receiving teaching from God.
Let’s to the book of 1 Thessalonians and look at what our responsibility is when we hear what we believe might be inspired messages.
Prove all things
1 Thessalonians 5:20-21
Despise not prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
The apostle Paul is warning the Thessalonian believers to not formulate a mindset where they think that they have no longer a need of continual prophesyings (inspired and intelligible messages181). On the other hand, they shouldn’t be lax in just listening to anything that is said and believing it. He tells them to make sure that they prove all things.
The meaning here is, that they were to carefully examine everything proposed for their belief. They were not to receive it on trust; to take it on assertion; to believe it because it was urged with vehemence, zeal, or plausibility. In the various opinions and doctrines which were submitted to them for adoption, they were to apply the appropriate tests from reason and the word of God, and what they found to be true they were to embrace; what was false they were to reject.182
And so, if the Word of God clearly advocates that whatever we hear from someone in leadership should be tested according to the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then likewise those in leadership should be those who exemplifies such in their teaching and decisions.
With these thoughts in mind, the translation of this verse would be entirely different.
Be ye followers of me
1 Corinthians 4:16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
If a spiritual leader, like the apostle Paul, says be ye followers of me what they would mean is follow my example as I follow Christ in the special virtues of humility, self-denial, and faithfulness.183
Don’t take everything you hear from the pulpit for granted. This doesn’t mean that we are always trying to find something wrong with what is being said, but what it does mean is that it should be tested. If a leader you are listening to says that he/she has exclusive access to God and that you should submit to their every word and directive, then jump on your spiritual horse and ride out of there.
The next thing that we will take a look at which can inhibit our spiritual growth is what is called the end justifies the means. What is this all about? We’ll find out in the next chapter.
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160The Bible Exposition Commentary.
162Adam Clarke's Commentary.
163UBS Old Testament.
164Vincent's Word Studies.
166UBS New Testament.
167Adam Clarke's Commentary.
168Wuest's Word Studies.
169Weust’s Word Studies.
170The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
172“REPORT ON “THE BIBLE SPEAKS”, Gospel Ministries, Page 8. 08 May 2020 <http://www.carlstevens.org/gpage6.html>.
173Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament.
174 “Rhema (doctrine)”, WIKEPEDIA. 08 May 2020 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhema_(doctrine)>.
175The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament 1989, Access Date ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
176UBS New Testament.
177Adam Clarke's Commentary.
178UBS New Testament Handbook Series.
179Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament.
180UBS New Testament Handbook Series.
181UBS New Testament.
183The Pulpit Commentary.