Received: 21 March 2014'Why use the "Satanic word church" instead of "Assembly" on your website?'
Subject: 'Why use the "Satanic word church" instead of "Assembly" on your website?'
Why the insertion of the word 'Church' into the Word of God?!
I am not ashamed of my Lord I exault Him in all lifes woe's. He is constantly leading and guiding my way. Amen
I open your website under favourites regularly. I note and make comment about the use of the word C-h-u-r-c-h.
I have a bold statement to make; "Jesus is not the head of the church". Why?
Briefly, the word Church is of pagan origin, in use long before the birth of our Lord.
Church is a circle liken to Stonehenge over in Wiltshire or a pagan temple with idol worship, child and animal sacrifices. Church is Roman Catholicism
About 332 CE the Roman Caesar Constantine declared that persecution of Christians to be outlawed declaring himself Emperor of Rome and of the Christian communities. It is debateable whether or not he truly believed in Christianity and one living God. He did, however order the pagan temples, be redesigned into churches. Even though he protected and accepted Christians, it is believed he still remained a worshipper of the sun god Mithras or the goddess Diana. This is evident on his triumphant arch in Rome. Constantine forbade pagan sacrifices. He seized the treasuries of the pagan temples and used the money to further construct ornate church buildings. This is the beginning of Roman Catholicism. Prior to Constantine, the early Christians prayed and gathered together to praise the Lord anywhere any time they wished. Unfortunately some pagan customs have crept into the church. The Lord can't be held to a timetable. His Temple is in the heart of the believer, not in buildings made by hands. Stephan was stoned to death for stating the latter.
Many professing Christians today are ignorant of the fact; that the Greek translation Ekklesia to English means "Called out Ones, Assembly, Congregation, or Community". The word Ecclesia translated comes nowhere near to the word church.
The word Church is not found in the Old Testament, only assembly, or congregation you find the word church (only three times in Acts) in William Tyndale's New Testament bible, you will find assembly or congregation, a more accurate translation.
William Tyndale was educated at Oxford, fluent in Hebrew, and Hellenistic old Greek. Tyndale's mission was to publish a bible for all English speaking people giving them an opportunity, if they were capable of reading, to read and study for themselves, instead of a priest having all biblical knowledge and authority... The church Bible was in Latin so people had to rely on the priest to interpret the scripture, which was open to abuse.
Henry VIII of England and the church authorities signed a warrant for Tyndale's arrest
He was eventually caught and sentenced to death. He was chained to a post, strangled, then his body burnt. His last words were "Lord, Open the eyes of the King of England".
One year later King Henry commissioned a bible in English having one placed in every church in England.
The Church Killed William Tyndale and thousands more believers across Europe. A documented instance where parents had taught their children the Lords Prayer, were found guilty by the church, the family then were burned at the stake, So why would we "the called out one's" want to be associated with the word c-h-u-r-c-h?
King James I commanded that the word assembly should be changed to church. He commissioned the English bible in 1604 and revised it again in1611 the Authorised English bible. The King or Queen then would be the Supreme Head of the state church of England, (now-a-days the Supreme Governor) a political move to state control, keeping the format of Roman Catholicism with its privileged hierarchy elite, its laity and its idols.
Someone once said the spiritual and temporal powers are entrusted to two different orders, both drawing on the authority from the Lord, each supreme in its own field of the other, the monarchy is subject to the Bishop in spiritual affairs, the Bishop is to the monarchy in temporal affairs. There is a satanic deception here where Christians think today they can get involved in worldly political affaires which is nonsense, we either love one or hate the other. If Jesus was the stone that was rejected "therefore the world hates us" (John 15:19b)
The Greek word Ekklesia appears in the New Testament roughly 115 times, in every instance except in three verses it is wrongly translated as church. The three exceptions are Acts 19:32,39,41. In these instances the translators rendered it assembly instead of church. But, the Greek word is exactly the same as the other 112 entries where the word was changed to church. Eighty percent of Tyndale's translation is used in the King James Bible.
So then, how can Jesus be the head of the Church, when Satan, Mormon's , Spiritualists, New Age, Seventh Day Adventist, Methodists, assemblies of god, and so on and so forth, all have church.
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Why would we "called out ones" or born again, want to be part, or called the church when our adversary Satan has a church too.
If we are Jesu' Ekklesia, called out one's then we should act and say differently. "For God is not the author of confusion" (1 Corinthians 14:33), but man is. Denominationalism is taking the mick out of Christianity. Satan uses the many denominational churches, which are all counterfeits of the Lord's one true Assembly, fooling people, causing them to be eternally lost.
There was never any early church, the word is alien to the holy scriptures, The Lords word is quite clear where two or more are gathered together there I AM (Jesus) also,
Where is church in that statement?
I believe as do many, the word c-h-u-r-c-h corrupts our souls and minds. The King James Bible is corrupted that is a historical fact and not heresy. There are far better translations e.g. Rotherham's Emphasized Bible or Robert Young's word by word translation with the word church erased and corrected to assembly or congregation. Not perfect but better.
Take away the word "Church building" the "privileged clergy" become powerless. They will have to get on their bikes and find a job and live in the real world working for a wage..
Jesus is the head of His Congregation or Assembly. He is the great I Am, King, Lord. Master, Shepherd, High Priest, Teacher, Leader, Father, Mighty Living God.
Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them." It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life for a ransom for the many Matt 20:25-30
All I ask is that you pray over the word church to be removed from all translations of the bible and website and correctly insert assembly congregation.
Your comments will be valued.
Just been reading your website The Christian Expositor / Savage Wolves with reference to Elim Pastor in Wales Kevin Tugwell.
Many Elim ministers lord it over the Lords flock in one way or anther. These sort of people think they are God ordained authority having their finger in every pie. I am not a dumb sheep, unfortunately many believers want to stay as lambs
Mike my friend and one or two other brethren asked the congregation for financial aid for the charity Children in Need, his pastor was not best pleased because he had not informed the eldership in the first instance.
I am no lover of the Elim Pentecostal movement which has become a business, an organisational institution with CoE professional clergy. The Elim New Life community Church has two ranks, one of authority the Pastor, with his lieutenants, and the laity, the doers, who continue to be lambs. The latter are required to submit to the pastor, tithe and regularly attend church (for brain washing) before becoming a church member, all unscriptural.
I used to attend an Elim Pentecostal or New Life Community Church; I now attend, when I want to, which is often an open assembly. The Lord called me out of the Elim organisation, 2 Cor 6:17-18. I consider myself liken to a Berean or Beroea; I check everything is of scripture and truthful.
I had a heavy heart with some of the former Pastor's teachings, for instance I had issues with Church membership, the false teaching on tithing, a one man show with his henchmen and the organised institutional church used as a business. The congregation had to submit to the Pastor and his teachings. The Pastor wanted me to lift up my hands in worship and to pray publicly? I'll do the later as I discern the Lords spirit, not when a mere man tells me.
I asked the question, why he used the title Reverend when it is mentioned only once in the Word as the Lords Name psalms 111:9. The Pastor called the church his flock. I was aghast by his remark.
I asked the eldership if the assembly could begin an outreach by starting a food bank for the poorer community in our town due to the financial climate Britain was in. Sarcastically the Pastor ask who I knew who was hungry and in need. Hmmmm I had forgotten it wasn't the Pastors idea. All Pastor ideas are implemented.
I questioned the false teaching of tithing to an elder who promptly reported me to the Pastor. We had words I was not allowed to be part of the music worship group, I called him an Authoritarian despot.. he was not a happy bunny to my comments.
Called out ones are a Royal priesthood, ministers, (servants) many will be teachers and evangelists, so why would I need a Pastor to be overseer and why would I need some someone to watch over my soul and to be accountable to the Lord Heb13. I only saw the Pastor once or twice a week so how can he be accountable. (such garbage) I have the Lord Jesus to guide, teach and watch over me, not some man who thinks he has divine authority chosen to be overseer to Gods assembled.
The people I meet with now are very sincere, I am appreciated and loved, having had my fettles finally broken, I am now free. They visit the sick and the widowed. The youth sometimes outnumber the assembly. (may it continue Amen).
Our congregation has no professional clergy we are able to freely give financially more to the needy. There is order amongst the saints, there is no actual human leader, it is so different. The scriptures inform, the apostle Paul a great example, He worked for his own needs and often his companions Bartholomew and Timothy needs making tents and no doubt involved in other labours, Paul was never a burden on any congregation.
I don't need an earthly leader, I don't need to be told how and when I should praise the Lord or live my Life. Jesus has all authority after all He is the Word that leads me. Psalm 119 :105 He is lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Amen
Brethren, May the Lord richly bless you in everything... Amen
Where do we get the concept of "pastoral authority" from today?
TCE replies: 26th July 2014
thank you for taking the time to bring these points to our attention.
Because of the path our ministry has taken in recent years we have found it necessary to greatly reduce the length of our replies - which many have advised us would probably be advantageous anyway!
So, point by point:
1. You are absolutely correct about 'the word Church' and its insertion into the Word of God. Some argue that the word is probably derived from the Greek kuriakon [i.e., "the Lord's house" - related to kuriakos, meaning 'belonging to the Lord ('Jehovah' or Jesus), e.g. kuriakos deipnon - 'Lord's supper' in 1 Corinthians 11:20], which was used by ancient authors for the place of worship. But the derivation is more likely derived from kirk (derived from a large variety of European language sources and still used in Scotland to describe Christian ecclesia), the Latin circus, circulus, and the Greek kuklos - because the congregations were gathered in circles - and therefore probably from pagan sources. The Greek word ekklesia originally meant an assembly called out by the magistrate, or by legitimate authority, and it was in this sense that the word was adapted and applied by the writers of the New Testament to the Christian congregation.
We can see the influence of the often heretical 'Church Fathers' and the increasingly corrupt Papal Roman Catholic Church on the manuscripts of the New Testament as their 'translators' began to replace the Greek word ecclesia with 'church' (which is synonymous with the Hebrew kahal of the Old Testament). There is no clear instance of kuriakon being used as a place of meeting or of worship, although in post-apostolic times it quickly received this meaning from these injurious sources. This word is also never used to denote the inhabitants of a country united in the same profession of faith, as it came to be applied in referring to the "Church of England," the "Church of Scotland," etc. And, wonderful as the King James Bible translators were overall, some went along with the methods of Papal Rome because they had not yet 'Reformed' anywhere enough to recognise the source of such errors!
Referring to Strong's Concordance the Greek ekklesia ('church') is translated 'church' 78 times (and, in 1 Peter 5:13, 'church' is used - by 'correct assumption' - when the Greek doesn't include the word at all!). And you are correct - the word ecclesia is translated "assembly" correctly at Acts 19:32, 39, and 41!
Ekklesia (although translated 'church') does correctly denote the whole body of the redeemed, all those whom the Father has given to Christ, the invisible catholic (meaning 'universal', not as in Papal Roman Catholic) assembly (Ephesians 5:23-29; Hebrews 12:23).
A few Christians associated together in observing the ordinances of the gospel are an ecclesia (Romans 16:5; Colossians 4:15) and we find the same word (although translated incorrectly) in other places, e.g. 'the church that was at Antioch' (Acts 13:1); the "church of God at Corinth" (1 Corinthians 1:2), "the church at Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1), "the church of Ephesus" (Revelation 2:1), cf. (1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Matthew 16:18).
2. You are also correct about Constantine and the origin of the Papal Roman Catholic Church. We have already written about these deceptions but are expanding further in replies to Papal Roman Catholics in articles on the canon of Scripture and the Apocrypha and pseudepigraphical works.
3. We will endeavour to ensure the emphasis of 'ekklesia' in future articles!
4. We have also been reminded of other influences from Papal Rome that have been quietly accepted by 'Protestant' churches for centuries - e.g. references to 'Easter' which was a pagan holiday (re. Acts 12:4 - the only place in which "Easter" appears in the Authorized Version), a factor which was also brought up in a recent e-mail from another website which posed the question: 'Why don't Christians refer to 'Resurrection Day' and reject the use of 'Easter'?
5. The continued interference with the 'Christianity' that English kings inherited from Papal Rome is another matter we have touched on in our replies to Papal Roman Catholics - and they also made use of Papal Rome's false teaching concerning 'spiritual and temporal powers' to kill true believers. Genuine believers existed in various ekklesia from the days of the apostles (as we have also discussed in some detail in the replies to Papal Roman Catholics) and 'denominational churches' sprang from offshoots from the Anglican cult that broke away from the Papal Roman Catholic cult - so it is no surprise to find they contain errors that can mask the clear truth of the genuine Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
6. In the replies to Papal Roman Catholics (referred to earlier) we have also examined the claims to accuracy of Jerome's 'Vulgate' and compared the origin of the 'King James Bible' and the more recent translations that are derived from other manuscript sources. The results are not as conclusive (in favour of the KJV or other versions) as some may think. There are many, many versions we have not researched at all, including Rotherham's and Young's, but we would be interested in knowing if anyone has checked their overall accuracy - particularly regarding major doctrines, such as those proving the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit).
We noticed, in a brief search at:
'Rotherham's Emphasized Bible is more accurate to the Hebrew and Greek text than any other English translation. The second most accurate English translation of the Hebrew and Greek text is 'Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (http://archive.org/details/holybibleconsist00youn) ... tied for third are the ASV of 1901 (http://archive.org/details/holybible00newy) ... and the New World Translation (http://www.watchtower.org/e/bible/index.htm); fourth is the NASB of 1995 and fifth would be the ESV.'
Checking just three examples from the pdf file (John 3:3; Gen. 18:22; and Ex. 3:14) speaks highly of Rotherham's work - but at the moment we do not have the time to look deeper.
But we are wary of any list that includes the New World Translation of the World Bible and Tract Society of Jehovah's Witnesses (a thoroughly deceived cult!), for it proves that it certainly has not been carefully researched. Just checking to page 4 and the NWT translation of Genesis 1:21 ( '... And God got to see that [it was] good') does not fill us with confidence, especially knowing that the World Bible and Tract Society have Westcott and Hort's text in their Greek Interlinear, yet manage to change the literal Greek of John 14:14 ('If ever anything you should ask Me in the name of Me this I shall do') to 'If you ask anything in my name I will do it'. Thus the simple omission of this little word 'Me' prevents the deluded Jehovah's Witnesses from knowing they can pray to the Lord Jesus Christ who is also fully JHWH!
The 'Statement of Faith' at:
reveals the reason for the errors above and it is no surprise to find they deny the 'Trinity' (more correctly, the 'Tri-unity' of the Godhead).
We would therefore be interested in knowing the source of your information regarding the translations you recommend.
7. It is difficult to believe that just doing away with 'the word "Church building"' will ever cause an awakening or reformation of the "privileged clergy" who mainly carry on in whatever partial form of God's Word they have taken on through the (fairly temporary) breakaway (since they are slowly filtering back!) from Papal Rome and the variable influences of liberal theology. Some of them have proven themselves incapable of 'find[ing] a job and liv[ing] in the real world working for a wage' and found themselves as 'church leaders' because of this inability (the 'Pastor' you refer to fits such a description perfectly as the details of his reactions in various circumstances revealed to us so clearly).
Sadly, many Christians on the internet have recognised that the Elim Pentecostal movement exhibits many 'cultic' qualities as an 'organisational institution' and, varying within the local ekklesia, often exhibits 'two ranks' - as you wrote. Although we know of some 'Pentecostal' ekklesia who are led by fairly orthodox pastors, it is sad to say that the opposite is too often true as you have experienced.
8. 'Reverend' - and the many versions of this false title - are yet one more example of error inherited from Papal Rome. But we must be careful not to throw out truth when we reject error, for many verses clearly teach the importance of genuine leadership from elders (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5v12-13). Lack of respect for spiritual leadership is the main cause of divisions and we all admire those who are working hard (cf. James 2v14ff.; 2 Thessalonians 3v6-15) and clearly reveal their love for the flock. A Scriptural pastor cannot and will not demand respect - but his Christ-like spiritual life will command respect and will ensure the flock is fed appropriately (1 Peter 5v1-4) until the 'Chief Shepherd' appears!
Examples of the kind of heretical shepherding from 'Savage Wolves' that we have detailed occur so frequently in ekklesia in the UK today and have been experienced too often by many believers, but Hebrews 13:7 (NASB) does warn:
Remember those who led (rule) you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
The Greek word hegeomai, translated 'led/rule', means to lead, i.e. command (with official authority); to be chief, count, esteem, governor, judge, have the rule over and is often applied to military commanders but, here, means teachers who are appointed to lead or guide believers to eternal life. It does not refer to them so much as rulers or governors, as teachers or guides. The duty here enjoined is that of remembering their Biblical counsel, instruction, and their godly example. Remembering an Elim 'pastor' who insisted he was 'captain of the ship' and who frequently behaved in a thoroughly un-Biblical fashion, we can fully understand your abhorrence of such 'overseers' but, should you ever experience a truly genuine pastor, we trust you will find the joy of being led by one who puts the Lord first in all things and proves to be a real brother and friend.
Sadly, the deception of paying a 'professional clergy' has led to some of the worst traits, such as trying to please everyone and offend no one so that tares who have wormed their way into the ekklesia continue unchallenged and are left free to influence other weak brothers and sisters, or even teach children and lead them astray too!
We trust and pray that the Chief Shepherd will continue to lead you and your ekklesia 'into all truth' (John 16:7ff.) by the leading of the Holy Spirit as the Lord Jesus Christ promised.
In His Name,
John replies: 29th April 2014
Many thanks for your encouraging reply with regards to the word church. Amen
I just have one problem David, How have pastors become the head of the local assembled. The O.T. covenant has passed away when Jesus uttered in his dying breath "it is finished"?? Even Jeremiah and other great Prophet did not have anything good to say about priests.
So where do we get the concept of "pastoral authority" from today?
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28) In other words "There are none more equal than others". All Gods chosen are sheep who submit to our Lord the good shepherd our leader and our King.
In today's world, Pastors, Ministers etc, demand an income. They want a guaranteed salary." This directly contravenes scripture. The Lord's chosen are not to make a living from the Gospel. Pastors basically do that. Christ himself was a minister/pastor and gave of Himself continually and freely.
When entering a church building today, the church passes around a collection bag, for their tithes, basically compelling people to give money to hear what the Pastor has to say. If one is unable to give money, they are frowned upon by their peers and elders. I have witnessed myself the collection plate to be passed round before the pastor speaks.
Pastor's have preached to congregations that it sinful if they do not tithe 10% of their income to the Lord (tithing is a false teaching, we are not under the Jewish law) What we hear from contemporary pulpits is nothing more than what's called a sophist, meaning "one who preaches ethics for payment".
"The Gospel is a life (1 Corinthians 9:14). If we are living the gospel, how is one to make money and profit from it? If one is living something they can't charge for it, because people instantly observe the witness that they bear, they are not imitating Christ or any of His Apostles.
Jesus said to them, (His disciples) 'When I sent you without bag, and scrip, and sandals, did ye lack anything?' and they said, 'Nothing.' Luke 22: 35
These disciples lived by true-faith relying on the Lord who supplied all their needs. This is an indictor of true faith if one is really called by the Lord.
Within the church, God has "set the pastor"? the person who "has the rule"? the person who "has authority" over the congregation? If we submit to their authority it will be beneficial for us. If we have been taught these brainwashing concepts, read Luke 22:25-29, Matthew 20: 25-27 and Mark 10:42:45 Just because someone goes to seminary and studies (Bible College) to be a Pastor, does not mean they have the calling of Pastor.
The King James translators, lived in an age of absolute authority of kings who incidentally thought they are divinely appointed, who attempt to give the impression that within the church, certain people are "over" others. If we study this word it is not the Greek word "archon" which would mean a ruler, rather it is the Greek "proestemi" literally the person which is "most esteemed" within the Lords assembled.
The congregations today are taught to "submit to authority" or to "submit to them that have the ruler over you" is the basics of the wicked Church operation. The common roman Sun-day (pagan) worship format is based upon this concept of submitting to the rule of the leadership. Many Christian spend a large part of their time "submitting to rule"--"sitting under" ministry. Jesus defined rule as a service or servant-hood to others, and specifically not having authority over others. To lead is by example which Jesus and the Apostles displayed many times. This is how Jesus operated His ministry and it is how the congregations in the Bible operated. Jesus operated under the direct authority of God the Father, the assemblies in the bible operated under the direct authority of Jesus Christ who is the Head of the assembled faithful, and not man.
Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them." It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give His life for a ransom for the many Matt 20:25-30
Many Pastors in Africa, America especially, Europe, Canada and else where, have obtained great wealth from believers charity of giving to the Lord. These sheep in wolfs clothing own private transatlantic aircraft, own luxurious homes, love their Jewry, purchase new cars every other year, have fantastic holidays, their children go to private schools, some of these pastor/preacher earnings far exceed the President of America salary, yet the majority of people within their congregations have much less, some even impoverished. Many have debts because the preacher rules that it's sinful to rob God as in Malachi 3.8 by not tithing. These preachers place people back in bondage by their selfishness, authoritarian and despotic rule and false teachings...The apostle Paul, with a deeply troubled spirit and in sorrowful mode, penned a warning: "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29).
The apostle Paul, a fine example, worked for his own and often for his companions needs, Bartholomew, Timothy, Titus and other co workers, were tent making and probably were employed in other labours too, for the benefit of others. Paul was never a burden on any Assembly or Congregation. He encourage giving according to one's heart, for the benefit of the widows, orphans, the sick and the impoverished in and outside the local assemblies. Giving is not necessarily financial support. Giving is a witness of support, charity and love.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers, (and sisters) ye have done it unto me. Matt 25:40 Luke 10 30:37 the story of the Samaritan.
The OT covenant ceased when Christ last dying words were "it is finished", Meaning mission accomplished, the Levi priesthood, tithing, circumcision, and the other three hundred or so Jewish laws passed away... (Enter the New Covenant of Grace).
The Lords faithful followers are now a Royal Priesthood a holy people Peter 2;5 and ye yourselves, as living stones, are built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
People, who think that Jesus has called them to the office Pastor, Minister, Teacher or whatever, desiring leadership, and authority, have delusions of grandeur. Eph 4: 11 - 12 are gifts to all, in all local assemblies not just to a few who think their calling is higher than another..
The word Pastor is nowhere to be found in the entirety of the bible, Pastors plural is mentioned only once Eph 4:11 and is one of the five gifts and is not a title or office. I find no scriptural support for Pastors leading Gods local Assemblies ... and He gave some [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] proclaimers of good news, and some [as] shepherds and teachers,12 unto the perfecting of the saints, for a work of ministration, for a building up of the body of the Christ, Eph 4.11:12 YLT
Some denominations have dismissed two of the five gifts, Apostle and prophets. I fined nothing scriptural that states that apostle and prophet would be eliminated from the body of Christ during this age. The NT informs there were well over thirty six known apostles, including women, serving throughout the first and the early second century. This concept is rather intriguing when Paul lists five very important gifts for the equipping of the saints, only to remove the first two gifts in this age.
I have visited many denominational assemblies with pastors at the helm, some sincere and humble, many authoritarian and despotic, many teach false doctrines. The latter two are not good examples of Christ Jesus. These people are so proud they have to have Reverend or some other initials before or after their name. Did Jesus, have letters before or after his name, No he did not, Reverend, a name of the Lord is mentioned once only in the entirety of the bible. Ps111:9. He has sent redemption unto his people; He hath commanded His covenant forever: Holy and Reverend is his name. I don't know how men have the audacity to place Reverend before their names distinguishing themselves higher than others, acting as some sort of demigod.
Where do we get the concept of "pastoral authority" from? I assume: it is simply the remnant of the government of the Roman Empire still within our Congregations today?
"Lord, give your people grace to hear, to see, to develop and increase knowledge in your word, that, after the example of your servants Jesus, Jeremiah, Job, Saul of Tarsus and William Tyndale, we may not only profess your true gospel but also be ready to suffer and perhaps die for the sake of it, in Jesus' name; Amen
Why are there so many abuses of "pastoral authority" in contemporary assemblies?
TCE replies: 26th July 2014
you are right to question the many abuses of "pastoral authority" in contemporary assemblies.
Firstly, it is obviously a fact that the Old Testament priesthood is done away with and there is now only one 'great high priest' after the order of Melchizedek:
Hebrews 4:14: 'Having then a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession'.
Hebrews 5:10 '... named of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek'.
All Christians are now members of a new royal priesthood of a very different nature and purpose from that of the Old Testament, as a result of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary:
1 Peter 2:9 - 'But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light'
Yes, we are all equal, as Galatians 3:26-29 teaches:
'For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one (man) in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise'.
The church's one essential ministry is, therefore, the ministry of her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Hebrews and Revelation reveal the Lamb in the midst of the throne, the High Priest ever interceding at the heavenly altar of prayer as the focus of Christian worship. By his heavenly ministration all of God's people have access to the throne of grace. In the New Testament ekklesia there is no chancel separating 'the clergy' from 'the laity' for all are God's heritage, a royal priesthood, a people for God's own possession (1 Peter 2:9; 5:2-3).
But this latter passage clearly shows the pattern that now exists (1 Peter 5:1-5):
'The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according to the will of God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples [Gk. tupos - meaning 'a die (as struck), a stamp, a model (for imitation) or instance (for warning), or pattern) to the flock']. And when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, be subject unto the elder. Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.'
So the New Testament clearly teaches a position of subjection to an 'eldership' that has Biblical authority with the clear rider of humility in order 'to serve one another'.
While the apostles were clearly supported by churches in their evangelical work the 'guaranteed salary' claims made by pastors have come about by the usual heretical route - Papal Rome with their false 'paid priesthood'! Incidentally, the Greek words, hiereus, meaning 'a priest', and archiereus, for a 'high-priest' (literally, of the Jews, and used repeatedly of Christ in the Book of Hebrews) - are never used of a Christian leader in a New Testament ekklesia! The Greek word used of all Christian believers in 1 Peter 2:5 & 9 ('Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ ... But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light') is hierateuma, meaning 'priestly fraternity', i.e. sacerdotal order (figuratively) 'priesthood' - and is also never used to describe a Christian leader.
The tithe originated as the tax that Israelites paid from the produce of the land to support the priestly tribe - the Levites!
Again, it is true that tithing is an Old Testament, Jewish practice, not a Christian principle espoused in the New Testament. Of the more than 40 uses of the word, tithe, only 9 are from the New Testament and not one of these indicates that tithing was taught or practiced in the ekklesia and, in fact, the very strong overall evidence is that it was not part of their practice!
The tithe originated as the tax that Israelites paid from the produce of the land to support the priestly tribe (the Levites), to fund Jewish religious festivals, and to help the poor (ref. Lev. 27:30,32; Num. 18:26; Deut. 12:17; 14:22-23,28; 2 Ch 31:5-6; Neh. 10:38; 13:12; Matt. 23:23; Lk 11:42). We agree with the orthodox Christian view that the ministry of Jesus Christ, however, brought an end to adherence to many of the ceremonial codes that were fundamental to the Jewish faith and tithing was one such casualty of the New Covenant. Christians believe in generous giving, but are not under any obligation to contribute a specific percentage of their income although we would all agree that everything we have (100% - not just 10%!) belongs to God and, since the Lord Jesus Christ owns us then He owns all that we own. But, in place of the Old Testament teaching of tithing, the New Testament teaches wise stewardship.
The New Testament teaches support of leaders & evangelists (in 1 Corinthians 9:1-18 and 1 Timothy 5:17-18), namely that the apostles had the right to food and drink, to take a believing wife along with them and to a "material harvest" (this might be referring to clothes and shelter for themselves and their families).
Paul teaches Timothy the same concepts that he taught the Corinthians, i.e. that the elders are to be supported and he uses the same Old Testament passage about 'not muzzling an ox while he is treading out the grain'. The idea may be that while the elder is taking care of the flock ('treading out the grain') he should not have to work elsewhere to support himself (this would be "muzzling the ox").
These verses are the only places that deal directly with the issue of supporting the "ministerial staff" of a congregation. It appears to be entirely up to Christians to decide on how much to provide to support their elders and evangelists. Of course, the spiritual principles of generosity, giving and unselfishness come into play here as well.
Most denominations have therefore accepted that these are commands from God to support those who preach the gospel (evangelists, elders, etc.) and they have taken it as far as accepting that they should make their living from the gospel by being supported to such an extent that they can give themselves fully to caring for the ekklesia.
But since we have already seen that Paul supported himself to some extent, at least, by 'tent-making' and the New Testament is entirely silent as to what amount should be collected for this 'support', it is surely reasonable for Christian workers to still follow the same guidelines and have a temporary job that pays a considerable part of their wages? Paul certainly never mentions any kind of ratios or budgets to use as a guideline, or tithing, but leaves it entirely up to the ekklesia to give out of a grateful, willing and unselfish heart.
It seems that some ekklesiae have embraced the lead inherited from the Papal Rome cult and are consequently doing the opposite of what the apostle Paul and the first century Christians did. While the New Testament Christians decided themselves how much to give to support the ministry, contemporary leaders are sometimes known to try to decide how much the ekklesia should give.
Some attempt to use 1 Corinthians 16:2: 'Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come' [here 'prosper' (Gk. euodoo) means, figuratively, to succeed in business affairs] and 2 Corinthians 8-9 to support the idea of tithing or budgeting to support the ministry. But the contribution being discussed in these passages is clearly a contribution for the poor Christians in Jerusalem and elsewhere (cf. Romans 15:25-26).
Justin Martyr wrote (in the mid-2nd century) describing the collection that was taken up by the Christians on Sunday and shows that this practice continued in his day:
And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost… And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. (Justin Martyr, The First Apology Chap. 67)
The Book of Acts also has several passages that deal with giving to those in need (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 11:27-30) and the money collected by the apostles was used to meet the needs of the Christians there in Jerusalem. There is no mention of any portion being specifically set aside to support the 'ministry staff' of ekklesiae. The passage in Acts 11 is also informative because it shows that the disciples decided to give to help the brothers in Judea in need because of a famine. And the leaders didn't set a pre-determined amount for them to give but rather they gave "each according to his ability" - and sent it to the 'elders' (Gk. presbuteros - meaning elderly, older, a senior).
Clearly, Christians are to use financial and material support wisely and the many passages that warn against the love of money and greed and the avoidance of any kind of improper behaviour (e.g. Matt 6:24; Mark 8:36; Luke 12:15; Ephesians 5:3; Col 3:5; 1 Tim 6:10; Hebrews 13:5) should be our guide. The fact that our Lord Jesus Christ was fully open about His own avoidance of material things or even a hint of ostentatious wealth (Matthew 8:20: 'Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head"') is a clear guide to the ekklesiae of the world!
Paul emphasised the correct approach very clearly (2 Cor 8:7-9):
But just as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us - see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.
and 2 Corinthians 9:7:
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
It is a shame that so many have followed the un-Scriptural example set by the 'Word-Faith' and Charismanic ego-trippers, but here in Cardiff we have seen the pastors and elders of many denominations endeavour to help other brothers and the poor - and never demand 'tithing' - so we have good reason to be grateful for these leaders who are faithful to the Word of God.
Luke 22:25-29 includes the description of one who is 'chief' (v26 - 'But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve') where the Greek word translated 'chief' is hegeomai ['to lead, i.e. command (with official authority); figuratively, to consider to be chief, governor, judge, to have the rule over'];
Matthew 20:25-27 includes the description of the man who is to be a 'servant-minister' (v26 - 'But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister') where the Greek word translated 'minister' is diakonos [an attendant, i.e. a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); especially, a Christian teacher and pastor (technically, a deacon, minister, servant)];
Mark 10:42:45 reveals the same message and shows that the Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly emphasised that (v44):
'... whosoever of you will be the chiefest [protos - foremost (in time, place, order or importance), best, chief(-est), first (of all)], shall be servant [doulos - a slave (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary; frequently, therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency), bond(-man), servant] of all'.
As the Servant King there is no one who has walked the earth and demonstrated so Perfectly just what this means. Sadly you seem to have experienced the same 'Pharisaical' spirit that Jesus came to expose. You are correct - many have chosen a career that God never intended and set out for 'seminary and studies ... to be a Pastor' while never being chosen or capable of being a pastor.
But, as Hebrews 13:17 informs us clearly:
'Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you'.
'Rule' is hegeomai - to lead, i.e. command (with official authority); chief, count, esteem, governor, judge, have the rule over - and the apostle exhorts them to remember those who had been their leaders, and to imitate their faith. He exhorts them to obey the leaders they now had and to submit to their authority in all matters of doctrine and discipline, on the grounds that they watched for their souls and would have to give an account of their conduct to God. If this conduct were improper they must give this report before God with grief but, if holy and pure, they would give it with joy. Pastors must, in all respects, behave as Christians and must be qualified with the correct gifts to faithfully perform the duties of their pastoral office and must not lord it over God's heritage but be examples of holiness and virtue to the flock. They must heartily labour to promote the salvation of their people, under a lively understanding that they must hereafter give a strict account of their management to the Great Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will either reward or punish them, depending on whether they promote or hinder the salvation of those souls for whom He died!
Where pastors act in this manner, the flock of believers are bound to obey them and hearken to their good advice and submit to their just reproofs, as to men who, like parents, have a right to exhort and reprove them. No one who truly considers the Word of God in its entirety can think it any manner of evil or hardship to submit to pastors of such a character, or can fail to pay attention to their Scriptural admonitions if they know that they earnestly seek their salvation through Jesus Christ. It is also an awful thought that many pastors, who had loved their flocks as they loved their own souls, shall be obliged to accuse them before God for either having rejected or neglected the Great Salvation!
It is true that the King James Version of the Bible came out of an era when the breakaway cult ('Anglicanism') from the Papal Roman Catholic Cult retained the spirit and attitude to authority of Rome and at least some of the translators may have been akin to the same existing in the founder of Papal Rome, Constantine, and Henry VIII (was he a psychopath, sociopath, or demon possessed to carry out so many vile acts, particularly against women he is supposed to have loved!). But when you read the accounts of the abilities and zeal of the translators it is fairly easy to see why the KJV is an excellent translation overall and, here, the Greek "proestemi" is used in a way that refers to 'rulers' [Strongs definition: 'to stand before, i.e. (in rank) to preside, or (by implication) to practise, maintain, be over, rule'] who are, obviously, to be Biblical pastors and never to try and lord it over the flock - as just discussed. Comparing two highly regarded translations (depending on your view of the original manuscripts - a subject we have discussed in some detail in our reply to Papal Roman Catholics q.v.):
NASB: with liberality; he who leads, with diligence;
KJV: simplicity; he that ruleth, with
1 Thessalonians 5:12
NASB: among you, and have charge over you in the Lord
KJV: you, and are over you in
1 Timothy 3:4
NASB: [He must be] one who manages his own
KJV: One that ruleth well his own
1 Timothy 3:5
NASB: does not know how to manage his own
KJV: not how to rule his own house,
1 Timothy 3:12
NASB: [and] good managers of [their] children
KJV: of one wife, ruling their children and
1 Timothy 5:17
NASB: The elders who rule well
KJV: the elders that rule well
NASB: will be careful to engage in good
KJV: might be careful to maintain good
NASB: learn to engage in good
KJV: also learn to maintain good works
We must be careful to accept the clear teaching of Scripture and not allow our experiences of the un-Biblical leadership common in those 'denominations', who failed to 'Reform' sufficiently after Luther, et al, recognised part of the major errors of Papal Rome, to sour our view of Scriptural leaders. We know many believers, particularly women, who have suffered grievously at the hands of men who have followed in the footsteps of the popes (ref. examples in 'Savage Wolves' article). If you've ever read Charles Chiniquy's '50 Years in the Church of Rome' (available on the internet) you will know the pure evil that Papal Rome majored in - and still does! True leadership, as described in the Word of God, should not feel any more severe than the love of our Perfect Father in Heaven and, if one of the sheep has gone astray, they will be rescued or corrected in a loving manner and not treated in the manner of the popes.
Following Scripture and leading in the manner taught by the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles requires a very different spirit from the haughty arrogance that emanated from Papal Rome and the 'Protestant' offshoots and the wealth sought by so many false leaders in contemporary ekklesiae has already been widely commented on by us.
Your quote from Acts 20:29 is part of the passage where Paul clearly addresses the elders (Acts 20:17):
And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders (Gk. presbuteros) of the ekklesia.
His message to them included the words (Acts 20:28):
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the ekklesia of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Overseers (Gk. episkopos - a superintendent, i.e. a Christian officer in charge of an ekklesia, and also meaning 'bishop') are clearly Scriptural and equivalent to 'elder' or 'pastor' which you have correctly identified at Ephesians 4:11:
'And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors [Gk. poimen - a shepherd (literally or figuratively)] and teachers'.
Yes, there are leaders who behave un-Scripturally and who have 'delusions of grandeur' - but the role of shepherd is clearly described in Scripture and is as valid as the others described here in Ephesians 4:11-12.
Christ Jesus clearly gives gifts to Christians through the Holy Spirit - i.e. the gifts to the ekklesia are gifted people. The subject 'He' is emphatic in the Greek to denote that Christ Himself gives the gifted people. Five kinds of gifted people are listed in the predicate accusative, so the NIV correctly translates, 'gave some to be'. The first two, apostles and prophets, were already mentioned in Ephesians 2:20 and 3:5 as the foundational gifts to the ekklesia. The apostles include the Twelve, who had the office of apostleship by virtue of being with Christ (Acts 1:21-22) and having been appointed by Him (which would also include Paul; 1 Corinthians 15:8-9; Galatians 1:1; 2:6-9), but "apostles" also included others who were recognized as apostles, such as James (1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 1:19), Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14; 1 Corinthians 9:6), Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7), possibly Silas and Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:7), and Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:6, 9). This latter group had the gift of apostleship but not the apostolic "office" as did the Twelve and Paul. Apostles, then, were those who carried the gospel message with God's authority. "Apostle" (from the Gk. apostolos) means 'a delegate; especially, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ with miraculous powers, apostle, messenger; literally 'he that is sent' or 'one sent as an authoritative delegate'.
New Testament prophets were necessary gifts to the ekklesia to provide edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3) and would have revealed God's will to the ekklesia and, most importantly, been essential for determination of the Biblical canon (examination of the process embraced by Papal Rome reveals the considerable variation in the canon achieved by the so-called 'Church Fathers'). Most ekklesiae probably believe that, since the apostles and prophets were foundational, they did not exist after the first generation of believers although there is no statement in the New Testament that confirms this supposition. Certainly, in our experience, most contemporary 'leaders' do not take 'prophetic utterances' even slightly serious, despite the clear instruction of 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22:
'Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil'.
And the 'sending out of apostles' today is equally unknown - not that many (outside of the small gatherings of some 'Assemblies of God' ekklesiae that exist in small communities here in Wales, UK) would even recognise a believer with the gifts of an apostle (or evangelist), instead using the safe word 'missionaries'.
As we recently wrote to a Papal Roman Catholic: 'The apostles were living authorities set up by Christ (Matt. 18:18; Acts 2:42; Eph. 2:20) but when they died there was no longer a living apostolic authority since only those who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ could have apostolic authority (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 9:1). There is no more evidence for derived or indirect apostolic authority (so-called 'apostolic succession' which is claimed by the Papal Roman Catholic Church) than there is that the 'signs of an apostle' were possessed by non-apostles. Even non-apostles in the New Testament could not give the gifts of an apostle (1 Corinthians 12:9, 28) or pass on the special gifts of healing all kinds of sickness or raising the dead (Matt. 10:8). To have apostolic authority one must be able to perform apostolic signs (2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3-4) but, since these special apostolic signs have clearly long ceased there is no longer apostolic authority except, of course, in the inspired writings of the apostles. Since the New Testament is the only inspired (infallible) record of what the apostles taught it follows that, since the death of the apostles, the only apostolic authority we have today is that inspired record of their teaching in the New Testament. Clearly, all necessary apostolic 'tradition' (teaching) on faith and practice is in the New Testament. We have no reason to suppose that everything the apostles ever taught that was essential to our salvation and edification is not in the New Testament, although we know that everything Jesus said is not recorded there (cf. John 20:30; 21:25) while we also have no reason to suppose that He would have allowed any important omissions to be made. Jesus promised that 'all the truth' He had taught the disciples would be brought to their remembrance (John 14:26; 16:13), so there is no reason to ever suppose that 'oral tradition' would not have been recorded in writing long before the apostles died. The obvious context of Jesus' statements recorded by John surely means 'all the truth' necessary for faith and morals (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15-17) would be preserved since it is only reasonable to infer that God would preserve what He inspired and this would be through the written record as in Old Testament days'.
In Jerusalem, the ekklesia was led by the apostles and by elders. When a difficult situation arose the apostles led the ekklesia to elect "deacons" who worked out and supervised a plan to meet the specific need (Acts 6). The first Gentile ekklesia, located in Antioch, was led by a team which included prophets and teachers (Acts 13) and they apparently supervised the life of all the believers who met in the city in small house ekklesiae. As Paul's missionary (apostolic) journeys pushed the boundaries of the ekklesiae even further, creating fresh organizational needs, guidance was provided by teams of local elders, chosen for their spiritual maturity by the Christian community and confirmed by the apostles on subsequent visits (Acts 14:23) by 'prayer and fasting' (how many contemporary ekklesiae do you know where fasting plays any significant part in the prayer life?). Also itinerant teachers such as Apollos travelled through the empire, sharing their particular teaching within the cities they visited (1 Corinthians 3:5):
'Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers [Gk. diakonos - probably from obsolete diako (to run on errands); an attendant, a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); especially, a Christian teacher and pastor (technically, a deacon or deaconess), deacon, minister, servant] by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?'
Thus, while Paul was writing 'The Pastoral Epistles' that spell out the roles very clearly, each city seems to have had its own bishops/overseers/elders, plus deacons, who provided special services to the Christian community and, by 115 AD, letters of Ignatius reveal that each local congregation had one bishop (i.e. they were straying from the clear meaning of the Greek) who was 'overseeing' several elders, and several deacons. The ekklesiae gradually became more and more falsely structured and less 'dynamic' (Holy Spirit led!) than before and thus it became easier for Constantine to pave the way for the Pontifical 'popes' and their false priesthood to be accepted by those who could not read the Word of God and had to take the word of these deceivers over such matters as the make-up of leadership.
It is clear from the account of the 'First Church Council' when, after discussion, James answered, saying, "Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for his name. And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written [and he quotes from Amos 9:11-12]. Therefore it is my judgment [Gk. krino - to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think] that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God' (Acts 15:13-15,19).
It was James who uttered the 'judgement/sentence', not Peter, so Papal Rome had to try and hide this obvious proof that Peter was not the 'infallible pope' they try and make him out to be! So they put the Bible on their 'Index of Forbidden Books' to try and stop the 'laity' from learning this obvious truth.
Acts 15:22-28: 'Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole ekklesia, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 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, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
Notice the clear pattern of men, who clearly have positions of responsibility and authority in the ekklesia, being in agreement with the 'whole ekklesia' and the Holy Spirit in this decision. There is no question of them 'lording' it over the 'laity' in any way. The apostolic brethren spoke corporately. Jesus gave the keys of knowledge to the apostles so that they would know what the Scriptures meant and Acts 15 is a clear example of 'apostolic binding and loosing' in action and the use of those 'keys' to interpret Amos 9:11-12.
Sadly, the unbalanced leadership pattern that grew out of error, and reached its zenith in Papal Rome,
is seen today in hyper-Pentecostalism with its many anti-Christ figures who have put themselves in the place of Christ and replaced the Holy Spirit and the only true basis of authority - God's Holy Word as found in the Bible alone.
These religious con-men endeavour to use the authority they have usurped for themselves and thus they define doctrine to secure their social, financial and political power base - just as Papal Roman Catholicism has always done. As Jesus said:
'But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. ... Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness' (Matt. 23:13,28).
Like you, we have long wondered at the blatant arrogance of men who claim 'Reverend' (and many even more ludicrous variations engineered by Papal Rome) as a title.
Despite this we are thankful and encouraged by many humble, truth-loving, Christ-exalting preachers and leaders that we have known. It is a great privilege to count many such men as personal friends in this dark world where (1 John 5:19) 'we know that we are of God [while] the whole world lieth in wickedness'.
There are still many good ekklesiae left and not all preachers are pompous, carnal and cowardly, for the Lord Jesus Christ promised to be with us to the end of the age, and His promise cannot fail (Matthew 28:20). While we cannot all have pastors who are as gifted as Paul, or even Spurgeon or Lloyd-Jones, we can at least encourage these men and each other to aim for the highest for the One who gave Himself for us (Matthew 5:48):
'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'
As you wrote - 'the remnant of the government of the Roman Empire [is] still within our Congregations today' - and it is one of the reasons we appeal on our 'home page' for a 'New and Thorough Reformation'. We do not believe that most ekklesiae will even recognise how truly 'lukewarm' and 'poor' they are (Revelation 2-3) but, like you, we can only encourage, pray, and warn.
(Continued on page 468)