Monday, March 6, 2017

Preacher Andrew's Systematic Theology, Chapter 27: Church Worship, Part 2

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Emphasis in Worship

            The emphasis in the worship service should not be placed on the music, but upon the preaching of the Word of God. This statement might seem abhorrent to many a worship leader, but the simple fact is that the Bible clearly states that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Romans 10:17). Faith does not come by singing or by hearing inspirational and emotion-evoking music. Filling the church-members and visitors with the feeling that they really worshipped is not at all important. Rather, teaching them the doctrines of the Word of God and bringing some to faith in Christ by such doctrinal preaching is important – Very important! Singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs has its place, but a worship service should not be an hour of music followed by fifteen or twenty minutes of a sermonette. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” (I Corinthians 1:21).
            If it is by the foolishness of preaching that souls are saved, let us give preaching its proper emphasis. The late revivalist Leonard Ravenhill stated that when you preach sermonettes, you get Christianettes who go outside and smoke cigarettes. The meaning there being that if Christians are taught a small amount of doctrine in a minimal amount of time every Sunday, they have no way to grow in Christ, for they have no instruction. Why not give thirty minutes to the song service, and at least an hour for the preaching? Most people will give two or three hours to a ball game, and two hours to a movie they want to see. Why not give God at least that much time for a sermon? This author does not think it is asking too much at all.

The Primary Motive of Music Selection[1]

            The primary motive in selecting worship music for many in church leadership is personal pleasure. People tend to sing music that they personally like. The difficulty in this is that everyone has different personal tastes, and the music preferences of any man are therefore unreliable. Rather, Christian leaders must select music according to the pleasure of God. The first question in selecting worship music should always be, “Will God be pleased with our selection?”
            The Israelites thought they had a great worship system that everyone enjoyed, and it must have come as a great shock for them to hear Jehovah Sabaoth say, “When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them,” (Isaiah 1:12-14). Surely this is how Jehovah feels about much of the rock-infused worship in modern-day churches today, as well as the doctrine-less emotion based praise and worship songs!
            When the determining factor in selecting worship music is whether it is enjoyed by Jehovah God, there is a wonderful side effect: God’s people begin to love what God loves! Hymns steeped in doctrine become precious to all who attend the services, and the music teaches the people to follow the Lord. Now, their hearts are prepared to hear and respond to the preaching of the Word of God.

The Outcome of Worship

            “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness,” (I Corinthians 1:23, 24). The Bible is very clear that the object of worship is that hearts will be convicted by the Word of God. Some will repent and believe the Gospel. Those who are saved should be corrected and guided by doctrine. Many will reject the message preached, but that is their choice, and the Word of God has still done its job to convict them. If a person walks away from the church service knowing they were convicted by the Holy-Spirit, it is a truth-based outcome. This is the outcome that the Lord desires. Someone who comes away from a church service with the feeling that they really worshipped God is a person who is basing their experience on emotion rather than truth. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth,” (III John 4). Worship must be based upon truth. Let us, as Christians, desire to worship God as He would be worshipped, let us love the things that He loves, and hate the things that He hates.



[1] Much of what I have written here is taken directly from a chart found in Dan Lucarini’s book, Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement: Confessions of a Former Worship Leader, page 120. The book was published by Evangelical Press out of Carlisle, PA in 2002. In this author’s estimation, this book is the best publication about worship music and the author wholeheartedly recommends it to the reader.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Preacher Andrew's Systematic Theology, Chapter 27: Church Worship, Part 1


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Now that we have studied both the universal and local church, we have a foundation upon which we can build our understanding of worship. Depending on the reader’s background, he may expect different things when he walks into a church building. He may expect rigid, sour faced men on one side, and dour, hatted women on the other while the organ plays Psalm 135 (for some, that organ might already be an abomination!). He may expect a man leading the singing running up and down the altar, encouraging everyone to sing “Hold the Fort!” while amens and hallelujahs ring out and men in their finest Sunday suits (And red Trump hats) wave their Bible in the air, waving that answer back to heaven.
Others yet might expect to see theater chairs instead of pews, a disco ball hanging from the stage, a rock combo set up, a screen displaying Shout to the Lord, and a multi-media display for all to see. A worship leader in torn jeans and a t-shirt, complete with a choke collar and earring, and everyone in the audience with hands raised and eyes closed feel the warmth and power of the spirit moving through them as one.
Yes, these descriptions are a bit facetious. However, the author does hope that it will help the reader understand that people have different presuppositions as to how church worship is supposed to go. Yet worship is not to be based upon our presuppositions, or what we would like it to be. It is not to be based upon our feelings. It is to be based upon doctrine, and God has said much in His Word about how He is to be worshiped.

The Day of Worship

            God is very specific in His Word about when He is to be worshipped by the local church. Let the reader understand right off, that the author speaks here of corporate worship, not individual worship, which should be at all times. God has specifically set aside Sunday as the day He is to be worshipped (see chapter 22). Immediately, the author hears the hiss of the Seventh Day Adventist in his ear, saying “Oh no, Saturday is the day of worship, for that is in the Ten Commandments!”
            Yet when we observe Acts 20:7, we read just the opposite is true: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” They met on the first day of the week, which is Sunday. The early church began to observe Sunday as the Sabbath to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the church has been doing so ever since. Let no cult or deceitful person convince the reader otherwise.
            Many Bible Baptist and Fundamental Baptist churches have not only a Sunday morning worship service, but also a Sunday afternoon or evening service and a midweek service as well. Although it is not commanded in Scripture, it is certainly not forbidden. The zeal of the early church was such that “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” (Acts 2:42, 46).
            These zealous believers had just seen revival through the preaching of the recent Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and they couldn’t get enough of Christ. This should be our attitude in worship so that when the doors of the church are open, we seek to be there. For these early believers, there was no excuse such as “the game is on,” or “I’m too tired,” or “It’s too much trouble with all of my children!” They came because they wanted to worship Jesus Christ!

The Division of Worship

            For practical reasons, most churches divide the worship service into a time of worship in song and worship through hearing and responding to the preaching of the Bible. Different churches will give different time to each of these divisions of worship, but the emphasis should be upon the preaching of the Word of God, for God’s Word always has top priority (Psalm 138:2).
            Three times in the Bible, God commands all people to worship Him in the beauty of holiness (I Chronicles 16:29, Psalm 29:2, Psalm 96:9). If God repeated this commandment three times, it must be very important! What do we know of holiness? We know that God Himself if holy, and man is sinful. There is no holiness naturally in the heart of man. Therefore, it would be unwise to incorporate into the worship of God the pagan practices, music, noise, distraction, and cultural influence of the world.
            In worship, the Bible teaches we are to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” (Romans 12:2). There are certain music styles that are absolutely conformed to this world and cannot be used to worship God because they are unholy.
            II Corinthians 6:14-18 states, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
What more can the author add, except to say, what does Contemporary “Christian” music have to do with real worship? It borrows from all of the philosophies and music styles of worldly, rock-and-roll, Satanic musicians. The hypnotic drums and loud noise create an almost trance like state in a person, who might unwittingly think is the work of the Holy Spirit, when indeed it is the work of counterfeit spirits influencing that person. The True Christian ought not to have anything to do with this form of “worship.”
            The Pastor in the pulpit must also regard the holiness of God as he preaches God’s Word. There should be holy reverence when he reads from it, and he must keep his language free from all forms of vulgar language. There is no need for a minister of God to debase the language of the pulpit to “be relevant.” God’s Word is always relevant, and the preaching of it ought to reflect the difference between the language of heaven and the language of the world.

The Primary Purpose of Worship Music

            The trendy and edgy megachurch industry will often promote CCM music as a means to “usher people into the presence of God.” This then becomes the primary purpose of worship music. Now the hypnotic beat of the drums, the noise and rhythm of the music serve to fill the participant with a wonder and awe at what is surely the very presence of God. So we see many people with eyes closed and arms outstretched, seeming to hypnotically receive this presence within themselves.
            Except, of course, for the fact that the believer is always in the presence of God. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there,” (Psalm 139:8). This verse is very specific in showing that there is no place the believer can be without God’s presence. So, the need for the drums, the rhythm, and all musical elements creating that within the believer seems superfluous. It becomes much more a self-gratifying pursuit, which is the opposite of worship.
            Also, to create an atmosphere using music and other media presentations where the presence of God seems to be felt is entirely a subjective creation of man, and not an objective creation of God.  It is man’s attempt at substituting the creation for the creator as an object of worship, so that the feeling of God’s presence is worshiped more than God Himself. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3), is a clear cut Law. The Christian cannot cross this line in the spirit of “worship.”
            So then, we know that the primary use of music in worship is not to usher worshipers into God’s presence. What is the primary use of music in worship? “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord,” (Colossians 3:16). From the Bible, we see that Paul’s desire for worshippers of the Lord was that the Word of Christ would be so entrenched in them that no man could root it out. To that end, Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs were to be employed to teach and admonish each other toward the things of the Word of God. The primary use of worship is to prepare the heart of man to receive the preaching from the Word of God!

            This makes for a Christ-centered service instead of a man-centered service. The emphasis is not a subjective one, where someone feels God’s presence, and the worshipped is placed at the center of worship receiving good feelings. Rather, Christ is placed in the center of Worship when proper Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are used in worship to bring hearts to the preaching of God’s Word. Then, Christ has the preeminence in the meeting, as He should. “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence,” (Colossians 1:18).

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Preacher Andrew's Systematic Theology Chapter 26: The Church, part 7 (final)

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A church that is Biblically following God and glorifying Christ in its leadership and government is a church whose members will grow together and grow in Christ. It is a bulwark that no power on earth can overthrow!
            Such a bulwark will go on the offensive against the principalities of the dark one, but it does not go armed with physical weapons. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” (Ephesians 6:12). One cannot fight a spiritual battle with physical weapons! Yet as the church marches on the offensive, it will beat upon the very gates of hell, and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” (Matthew 16:18).

The End of the Church Age, or the Age of Grace

            As every dispensation but the final dispensation of the fullness of times shall end in utter darkness and chaos, so “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse,” (II Timothy 3:13) and it would seem that the gates of hell might prevail, but by God’s grace He will instead remove His church from the evil world.
            “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed,” (I Corinthians 15:51, 52). This is the blessed promise of the rapture, an even which caps the age of grace and begins the dispensation of tribulation. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words,” (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).
            As the age of grace ends, God in one great act of grace removes His church from judgment, for Christ has already been judged for them. Now His primary focus with the world shifts from grace to judgment. That does not mean that the next dispensation is devoid of His grace (there is much evidence to the contrary), but grace is not His focus as it is in today’s dispensation. His focus will also shift from the church to His people Israel. During the tribulation on earth, the church will finally be married to her betrothed, Jesus Christ at the marriage supper of the lamb (Revelation 19:6-9).
            If you have received Jesus Christ as your Saviour by calling out to God in faith for His Salvation, you are part of the church, and you will not go through the tribulation. This is a fact you can take to the bank, and let no man deceive you otherwise. You, as a part of the church, will be forever united with Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb! If you have never asked God to save you through Jesus Christ, why not do so? It is an eternal joy to belong to Him!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Preacher Andrew's Systematic Theology Chapter 26: The Church, Part 6

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Calling and Ordination of a Pastor

            Two things are needful for a Pastor to rise to leadership in a church. Those two things are calling and appointment. Acts 13:2 says, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them,” Here we see that the Holy Spirit had called both Saul and Barnabas to the work of the ministry. A minister is a normal man, who at some point in his life, has been called by God away from the secular cares of this world unto the holy work of the ministry.
            I Timothy 4:14 states, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” This passage has much to say in the face of Fundamental Christian tradition. This is part of a letter written to Timothy, a young Pastor as instruction from the Apostle Paul concerning his pastorate. Paul tells Timothy that the gift within him (his calling to the ministry and subsequent pastoral ability) was given by the Presbytery laying their hands on him.
            If we correctly understand that Presbytery (from the Greek root Presbyteros) is to mean Pastors, then we can understand that Timothy was ordained by a group of Pastors laying their hands upon him. We can also understand that these were probably all Pastors of the same church, since churches at that time had multiple pastors. Toward the end of the New Testament era, we observe that church government had shifted so that each church had one Pastor (a.k.a. Bishop, or Elder). With this proper understanding of Scripture, we see that an ordination is simply the church leadership—the Pastor—laying his hands upon a man called to ministry and ordaining him, and appointing him to a certain work – either one in need of a Pastor already, or a new work that needs to be started.
            We see another example of this in Titus 1:5, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:” Here, Paul was telling another Pastor that he had ordained, that he was in turn to ordain Pastors and appoint them to start churches in all of the cities on the island of Crete. It is within the power of the pastor to ordain and appoint. Notice that power is not given to a mission board, to a denomination, or to the congregation of a church.
            Gone from the Scripture is any suggestion that a Pastor is to be ordained in a ceremony involving Pastors from several Independent Baptist Churches and Seminaries after a night of quizzing him over doctrine. Gone from the Scripture is any suggestion that a board of deacons get together to interview candidates for the position of Pastor. We see nothing in the Bible of a Pastor taking the position of Pastor by a popular vote from the congregation of a church. Churches are started from other churches. As those churches need leadership, it should be provided from the Pastor of the church that birthed it in the first place. A pastor who cares for a called-to-preach man in his congregation, understands his heart, and knows his ability, can wisely, prayerfully appoint such a man to such a place as God would have him be. All of this can only take place as the Pastor is yielded to the Spirit of God and walking in Holiness.

The Relationship of the Pastor and the Deacons

            For many churches, the concept of the board of deacons is that they should reign their Pastor in and govern him, lest he should get too carried away with missions giving, or the building program, or with the doctrine he is teaching. They see themselves as an oversight committee, when in fact the Bible teaches nothing of the sort. Nowhere in Scripture is the deacon given any power whatsoever over the Pastor, but it is actually the other way round. The deacon is meant to be subservient to the Pastor.
            Many believe that deacons are to be chosen by a popular vote among the congregation. Yet the Bible clearly gives the appointment of deacons to the Pastor, as we have already seen. “Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word,” (Acts 6:2-4). The purpose of the deacon is not to govern the Pastor, but to serve the pastor with regard to necessary duties that distract from the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.
            In the case of the original deacons, they were needed to deal with a dispute in the church concerning care for both Hellenist and Jewish widows. The Apostles could not be bothered with these things because they needed to be about the business of prayer and ministering the Word of God. So, they appointed deacons to do the job. Make no mistake, it was the Apostles (who were acting as the Pastors of the Jerusalem Church) who appointed the deacons.
            A deacon is a servant. He is called of God to his position. His job is to serve the Pastor in all the menial tasks of ministry, whether it be changing light bulbs or dealing with church finances. He may be called upon to teach Sunday School or preach now and again, but the major work of the ministry is in the hands of the Pastor, not the deacon. The deacon recognizes this and in a submissive spirit of humility always seeks to help his Pastor in any way possible, out of love.

Church Offices

            The Bible speaks very clearly of only two offices in the church: That of Pastor, and that of Deacon. This speaks very much to the fact that Pastor, Elder, Bishop, and Presbyter are all the same office. If this were not the case, there would be a list in I Timothy of the qualifications of a third office of Elder, but there is not. The two offices of Pastor and Deacon are very clearly outlined:
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. I Timothy 3:1-13

Pastor

            A Pastor is a man who has been put into the ministry by God alone. So the Apostle Paul wrote, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, (I Timothy 1:12). He is ordained as his Pastor recognizes God’s call on his life, but the Pastor does not call him, neither does any church or denomination. God calls him, putting him into the ministry, just as He did with Paul.
            As we see in the passage above from I Timothy 3, the Pastor is also to be a one-woman man. This is the exact meaning of “the husband of one wife.” All women are thereby disqualified. All women who think they are men are also disqualified unless they are able to change their chromosomes, which is impossible.
Also disqualified are divorced men. The office of a Pastor is a high and holy position, and one can easily be disqualified from it. There is a practical side to this: Who would come to a divorced pastor to seek marriage counselling? The pastor would have nothing to say.
Peter S. Ruckman, a heretic that is now in hell, taught that this passage meant that the Pastor is to be the husband of one wife at a time. He came to this passage with a certain bias, however. He was divorced and remarried multiple times. It is not a proper interpretation of this text to say it means “one woman at a time.” This only serves to throw the office of Pastor down into the depths of common depravity. A Pastor is to be one who is happily married and can tell others how to be happily married as well.
            Verse three of the above text teaches that he is also to be a man of Godly behaviour. He is to take the Holiness of God seriously. “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate,” (Titus 1:7, 8). He is not to be “one of the guys,” who doesn’t mind having a beer with another fellow to win him. Worldly behaviour repulses him. He does not seek after a high income, and he seeks to help others any way he can. He is careful with what movies he watches, what he posts to social media, and how he behaves himself in public. A deep regard for the holiness of God will cause a Pastor to fulfill these requirements.
            He is to have “faithful children not accused of riot or unruly,” (Titus 1:6b). As he walks in holiness, he is to cause the rest of his family to walk in holiness through a spirit of love and sobriety. As he separates from the world, he teaches his family the importance of separation as well, both by his doctrine and his example. He must also be a mature Christian with an excellent knowledge of Bible doctrine so that he will not be lifted up in pride or fall into the condemnation of the devil, but rather will use doctrine to defeat and even convince those who oppose and contradict sound doctrine, as Titus 1:9 states, “holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Deacon

            Although the office of a deacon has to do with menial tasks that would distract the Pastor from the ministry, his qualifications are nonetheless as strict as that of the Pastor. He must also be a man of Godly behaviour and a fervent, pure faith and clean conscience. He must be, as the pastor, a one-woman man, and having a well-ruled and obedient family. Again, this excludes divorced men. Church leadership is to be a holy and serious manner before God. When appointing church leadership, the Pastor must understand that the glory of God is at stake. Men of good character are essential in order to truly glorify God in a church.
            Deacons have this wonderful promise given to them in I Timothy 3:13: “For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Often times, a true deacon will become bold for Jesus Christ in his position to the point that God actually calls him to full-time ministry! Even if this is not so, they always have a good name both among men and before the Lord. A true deacon is not only a humble servant to the Pastor, he is a man to be respected in his church and ought to be glad of the position God has given him.

Extra-Biblical Offices

            The reader may notice that Paul did not write to Timothy of the office of of youth pastor, trustee, treasurer, Sunday School teacher, visitation pastor, or assistant pastor. That is because these offices appear nowhere in the Scripture. This does not mean that such offices are outright condemned, but it should restrict the use of them somewhat.
            For example, a Pastor may have too many obligations to be able to minister specifically to the youth of the church. Does he bring in a “youth pastor?” That is normally what is done – a young man who believes he is called to the ministry is chosen from a group of candidates and he is voted in by the church or the deacons.
            What if instead, the Pastor appointed a Deacon to teach the youth of the church through a Sunday School, and that Deacon taught the young men and ladies how to act in church so that they would sit quietly with their families under the teaching of the Word directly from the Pastor? Now there is no split in the leadership. The man leading the youth is not teaching a separate message from the Pastor, and the young men are not regarded as young annoying children but as young men and women. They learn to act like men and women, not as children or teenagers. I believe this would serve to eliminate from our churches the menace of the stereotypical millennial man who doesn’t know how to act like an adult.
            What if the Pastor appoints a deacon or two deacons to the office of trustee – so that men in a Biblical office are taking care of the financial affairs of the church? What if the Sunday Schools were not split up by age group, but by family units so that entire families learn the Word of God together? If children had a hard time understanding, they would be able to ask their parents instead of the teacher, and the parents would have to pay close attention so that they could teach their children. If there are children in attendance without their parents, they can ask the Sunday School teacher and he can lead them into Spiritual maturity.
            What if, instead of having an assistant pastor brought on from another church after a popular vote from the congregation or deacon board, the Pastor appoints (As Jesus Christ did) certain of his disciples to follow him closely and learn the ministry directly from him? Do you not think that such men would not learn to love the ministry and be well capable of starting other churches as the Pastor ordains them? It is this kind of leadership that will transform geographical regions for Christ!

Apostle and Prophet

            There were certain New Testament offices that vanished with the close of the New Testament. There were twelve original Apostles. One of these was Judas, who turned out to be a reprobate and betrayed Christ. When he died, those who would eventually form the early church tried to elect a new Apostle by a democratic method (Acts 1:23-26). The newly-elected Matthias was “numbered with the Apostles,” but the Bible never calls him an Apostle. God directly replaced Judas with Paul, and these twelve are the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb spoken of in Revelation 21:14.
            While the Bible loosely applies the term Apostle to a few others, it does so in the broader sense of one called to preach the Word (such as any Pastor). There were only twelve Apostles of the Lamb, and they were not succeeded by any when they died. God used them to bring order to the early church, and He designed for Pastors to maintain that order thereafter.
            Likewise, prophets also died out at the close of the New Testament, as the Apostle Paul said under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “whether there be prophecies, they shall fail,” (I Corinthians 13:8). A Pastor can prophesy only as far as he tells what the Bible says, but he does not have from God any specific knowledge of future things not outlined in Scripture. Anyone who claims he has such knowledge is a liar.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:11-16

            A church that is Biblically following God and glorifying Christ in its leadership and government is a church whose members will grow together and grow in Christ. It is a bulwark that no power on earth can overthrow!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Preacher Andrew's Systematic Theology, Chapter 26: The Church, Part 5

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The Glorification of God

Just after the Ascension of Jesus Christ, the early church continued “daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” (Acts 2:46). God’s desire for the church today is to have this very same single-minded focus. When the church has a singular focus, it has a good testimony and an evangelical passion.
Many Fundamental churches have it the wrong way round today. They try to stir up evangelical passion within themselves, the pastors trying to create it in the hearts of their congregation by having a regular time every week for soul-winning and encouraging everyone to be there. The focus of the church become the salvation of souls,
The salvation of souls is good, but it comes as a by-product of the church’s true focus – glorifying God because of the change He has made in the hearts of her members. It is true worship toward Jehovah that puts within the True Christian the desire to win others to Christ. So it was in the early Jerusalem Church. They were “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” (Acts 2:47).
Note the progression. They praised God, and this gave them favour with all the people. Then God was pleased to add souls to the church. This was not dependent upon the efforts of the church. Evangelism is entirely a work of God! The Apostles relied upon God and not men to convert souls and bring them into the church.
Christ…loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish,” (Ephesians 5:25b-27). We see here that Christ gave Himself for the church for His own glory. He wanted to set her apart and purify her through The Holy Spirit so that He would be glorified with the result of saved sinners praising Him for all eternity!

To Provoke Israel to Jealousy

            There is yet another purpose for the church, and this is because Israel has rebelled yet again against Jehovah by rejecting their Messiah. So, God gave His salvation to the Gentile nations in the hopes of showing Israel what she is missing and making the Jews envious of it. “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:11-15).
            The Holy Spirit spoke through Paul in his letter to the Romans to tell us that God is not finished with Israel. Rather, He has a glorious purpose, and the Church plays a role in that purpose. She is to provoke Jehovah’s beloved enemy Israel to jealousy. This works out in the local church as the constant evangelism of the Jews.

The Government of the Local Church

            Over the ages since the church was founded, many types of church government among differing denominations and cults posing as churches have been instituted in the church. Among these different types of church government are the cultic, Episcopalian, Congregational, or, Democratic, and the Theocratic form of government. Only one of these is Biblical. Let us now examine the chief forms of church government.

The Cultic Government

            In the Cultic form of government, a single person or group of persons who presumptuously and oftentimes pompously act in the room of Christ and God governs an entire church structure. This is the structure in place in the Romanist Cult, which is commanded by the Pope and his minions, pretending to be the vicar of Christ. He stands in the way of people who wish to come to God, and pretends to mediate for them, while actually blocking the way for them by hiding the doctrine of free grace from them. Of such forms of religion, the Bible speaks of them “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away,” (II Timothy 3:5). Such cults as the Mormons, so-called “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Iglesia ng Cristo, and others operate the same way.
            Such a heretical leader might seem righteous and holy on the outside, but in reality he “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God,” (II Thessalonians 2:4). The Apostle John had to deal with such a religious leader named Diotrephes. He built himself up to be some important religious leader, but in reality, he just loved having the preeminence among those in the church (III John 9).
            The Bible calls this heretical form of church government the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes in Revelation 2:6 and 15. The practice of the Nicolaitanes was for the clergy to gain victory of authority over the laity. That is, they controlled them much like a cult does. God said that He hates this form of church government – “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate,” (Revelation 2:15).

Episcopalian, or, Presbyterian Government

            The Episcopalian, or Presbyterian form of church government governs through a Presbytery, which oversees a synod and the churches within each synod. Within those churches are elders and the pastor who are under the authority of the synod, which is under the authority of the Presbytery. The pastor acts under the authority of the elders, and is the least authoritative figure in the government with the exception of the members of his church. Such a form of church government is not found at all in the Bible. In the Bible, the term elder and bishop (pastor) are used interchangeably and refer to the same office.

Democratic Government

            Most Independent, Fundamental Baptist Churches operate according to what is called the congregational form of church government, but it can also be called a democratic form. It is ruled by the people within the church. Most of the church decisions are made through church business meetings and the pastor carries only as much authority as the next member of the church, and often not as much authority as a deacon with a stronger, more charismatic personality. What is this then, except government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is not at all government for God. Therefore, the pastor’s vision for the church can be wholly ignored and even largely criticized and he is not free to command and teach church as he ought to. He was directed of God to “command and teach,” (I Timothy 4:11), but He cannot do that if His vision for the church is kept in check by fellow church members. He is called to lead.
            He is the spiritual expert. The church members are not. He is the theological expert. The church members are not. He is the undershephard. The church members are the sheep. They must follow him, not go their own direction and take him along with them.

Theocratic Government

            The true teaching of the Bible concerning church government is the Theocratic form of government, where God governs all the affairs of His local church by means of His appointed minister. This minister is a Godly man who is fully devoted to glorifying Him with the church and loves the members of the church with an unconditional agape love. God’s requirements to such a minister are very clear:
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.  For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. I Timothy 6:6-16
            Any bishop of God is to take this calling very seriously. People must be his ministry, and He must have a heart willing to serve them. A true leader is a man who can put others’ needs ahead of him, but still make them understand his God-given vision and make them willing to follow it.
            The Pastor is absolutely to have rule over the deacons. We understand this when we read the first account of the deacons. “Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word,” (Acts 6:2-4).
            Most Fundamental Baptists interpret this to mean that the church members had a business meeting and selected the deacons through a democratic voting process. However, no business meeting can be found in these verses. The church leaders told the congregation to bring seven men to them, and they, not the congregation, would appoint them over the business at hand. Obviously the minister of God will appoint Deacons over the people whom the people find to be agreeable, but they are appointed by the Pastor.
            The duty of the church member is to respond to this leadership with submission, as commanded in Scripture: ” 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,” (Hebrews 13:17). The Pastor leads the congregation and the deacons out of love, knowing that he must give an account before God. He is not, as in the cultic government, using people to serve himself. He is leading people on that He and they may serve Him rightly. Such a Pastor is to be reverenced and loved by his people, treated with dignity and submission.