11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Eph 4:)
Pastors, I find are an interesting breed, if I may use that term, in that they seem to be very much alike. I haven't had dealings with all pastors, and I haven't spoken to all pastors. But the ones I have seen, talked to and heard seem to have one certain characteristic in common. They like to be right. As pastors, they keep a tight reign on their sheep and try to prevent them from lending an ear to anything they don't consider proper fodder.
Before I elaborate on my obviously broad and very biased statement, let me explore a tangent, which if you have read very much of what I've written, you know I am very prone to do. My mother tells me I'm this way because I was born sideways. (I hope you know I'm just joking.)
Although I was joking about my mother, it is no joke that my father had to always be right, regardless of how wrong he might have been. Being right and having all the answers is a very hard job to take on and even harder to sustain. For myself, I wouldn't care to place myself under the strain of having to always have the answer. I'm perfectly content being wrong most of the time. And the times I'm not wrong, I'm mistaken for being wrong. Being wrong is an easy image to live up to. I like easy images.
Being right is what most people strive for. I can understand this ambition because I lived a lot of years striving for the same goal, that is, to be seen as right. Fortunately I never progressed far enough toward the front of the pack that anyone took me serious. And eventually I stopped taking myself serious as well. Peace at last.
Psychologists and others in the psychotic field are another group who insist upon being right no matter how wrong they are. And to my mind, they are wrong most of the time. The advantage with being a psychotic, I mean a psychologist is that psychologists have learned a lot of rhetoric with which to cover their mistakes. In fact they're so good at rhetoric that when they finish explaining away their mistakes a person feels so sorry for them that they don't dare call their rhetoric the rhetoric it is.
Speaking of rhetoric, there's the politician. Politicians are unique in that they're not only able to explain away their mistakes but they're especially good at pointing their finger in twelve (count them, twelve) different directions at once in an effort to place the blame on someone else. I've never been able to point to more than ten people at once. And even then it did no good because everyone somehow knew I was the one in error. I wonder how they do that? I feel so proficient at casting off the blame. But then feelings aren't all they're cracked up to be.
You thought I lost my train of thought didn't you? Well, back to pastors and shepherds.
13The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.
14Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; (Psalm 80:)
You might also like to read the entirety of what David is talking about here. I think you'll find it has more to do with pastors than just the use of the word.
Another part of the description of a pastor I would like for you to notice is this: "To rule." We don't think of a pastor as a ruler, in fact we think of him according to what they say of themselves. They say they're "servants." But as you can see above, nowhere is the concept of servant expressed. Let's take a look at the Greek and see if we can learn any more about pastors and shepherds:
Being a nice guy, however, is not the calling of a pastor. Paul here says what a pastor, as well as other ministers of the Church are to be. Let's take a close look at those requirements:
But doing one's job in the ministry is not unusual. In any religion you will find those in position doing their job very well. Let's take a look at the other requirements Paul sets forth:
Have I described you and your church? Then you have two choices. You can disagree and throw stones at me for being a heretic, defaming the respectable, and completely out of synch with the Bible; or, if you agree and you (a minister) recognize your failure, to do something to improve the situation. Chances are you think what I say is basically true, but for the other churches because you're already doing what you're supposed to be doing.
Fine and dandy. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter what I think. I can judge and give grades all day and it isn't worth a hill of beans. It's what God thinks that's important. So let's see what the Bible has to say about pastors and shepherds (I have more commentary after the references below):
God said He will give pastors who will feed with knowledge and understanding. And this is true in just about every church where the Bible is still read, as long as it's the Bible that's being read. Jesus said the Pharisees and the Scribes taught a true Word as well. The problem was, and is, that along with the true Gospel the pastors, as did the Pharisees, add their commentaries, their doctrines and their traditions that nullify the true Word they are delivering (Mark 7:5-15; Col 2:8).
19Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it. 20My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains. 21For the pastors are become brutish ["Eat up, waste"], and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered. (Jer 10:)
It's not a game we're playing, any more than it was a game with Adam and Eve and the Israelites who were rescued from their bondage in Egypt. There's an eternity at stake, yet we treat the entire thing as less than a TV program. Where does the fault lie? It appears to me that God is saying the fault lies with those whose job it is to keep God's Tabernacle in order and in good condition. Something not done today.
I know, you're saying it's the Roman church, or some other church God is talking about here. I would give the matter very serious consideration, especially in light of what God is saying about the churches and the pastors in these passages of Scripture.
Back to Pastors:
Pastors are needed in the churches. To not have leaders is to have chaos. But when we have leaders who do not lead, but rather tell those they are leading they have already arrived before they even put on their walking shoes is worse than having no leader at all.
Christmas parties, where families come together should be a time of expressing love for one another. I think I have expressed a common view. Let me tell you about my family Christmas reunions. My father was a Mormon. My brother-in-laws were part of two different Fundamental churches. I, at that time, was philosophical, having no church affiliation, and my younger brother was, I suppose you could say, searching. This I'm describing was essentially my first family reunion, and almost my last. When the subject of religion came up, which I suppose it always does in any family get-together, what should have been expressions of love, became anger and hate. I was glad there were no weapons in sight. Here were strong examples of Christian brotherhood at each other's throats. Not a one wanted to hear what the other had to say, and everyone demanded that everyone else agree with them. Within a short time I had more than enough and I decided to leave and not return. I had as much family love as I could stand.
This is the way of the Christian. And such an attitude is what causes the world to be against the Christian, and for good reason. This ought not to be so. The Christian should be the most compassionate, the most interested in others, the most sought after to lend an ear than anyone else. But instead the Christian is one to be avoided, especially by other Christians. And should that Christian you desire to share with be of another denomination not on the "accepted list," you dare not mention your beliefs unless you're attired for battle.
Christians should be always at the ready to share with other Christians their every hurt, fear, observation and thought, and this without being judged. We of the Church should be at the ready, as Paul said, to reprove, rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to receive the same from them. And this always in the spirit of love and concern for the other person.
Persecution brings people together, it does not separate them. The Pharisees found this out when they tried to stamp on the spread of Christianity. The more the fire is fanned, the hotter the blaze, and the more the fire spreads. Those under persecution cling to one another and sacrifice for one another. Affluence causes apathy and self-centeredness. And this, except for those in other countries, we have in the Church. We are all far too rich in worldly goods and worldly ambitions to even see past our self-righteous nose. Above I said all churches have deviated from their beginning and are sinking in the mire. This is not an absolute fact. There are still some churches and people who refuse to go the way of the world. They are of two classes. They are either detached from organized religion, that is the denominational system, and they are very likely very small in number; or they are one of the denominations deemed a "cult," and under persecution, and they are large in number.
Persecution brings people together. Lepers do not judge other lepers. In spite of any other differences, they are both lepers and not allowed to mingle with decent society. Having pride in one's name tag or credentials is of little benefit when both are being castrated for their condition or belief. That is not to say there are not people doing exactly that in spite of the foolishness of it. The entire church system is doing just that. If we take a close look at society today we will see that the Christian is the outcast of society, and every day they are being pushed more and more to the outskirts of acceptable society. Those who resist pressure to conform with the thinking of the world and give up their Christian beliefs are condemned and even imprisoned. This snowball has only begun to roll. In the near future it will have overtaken the churches and all but the most Spiritual will be caught up in the world's takeover of the churches, which is almost complete (and I dare say having had very little resistance).
The other group of churches who have not sunk to such a low level are those called cults. The reason cults have not changed are: One, they were corrupt from the beginning, that is, they were based on a false premise such as those called the "love cults." Or two: They are under persecution by the "mainstream" churches because they are just enough different than themselves to fall under the category of family, therefore open to castigation and condemnation.
Persecution creates a tight bond, and it creates resistance. There's something in us that resists whatever is trying to change us, if the pressure is strong enough. In the world of the mainline churches the resistance to the world system has been little because the change has been slow and without pressure. Once the world has the churches over the line of resistance all it will take is the final push to topple the church, as we're seeing in Canada and elsewhere.
Those churches called cults by the mainline churches have experienced resistance from their inception, even to the shedding of blood. And this from other Christians. They have, and still do, experience the fires of persecution from those who are supposedly "brothers and sisters" because of the slight differences in their belief. And this in spite of the fact that, for the most part, they are doing far more to fulfill their Christian duty than are the churches doing the persecuting. But it's that very persecution that ties the cults together and causes them to resist the influence of the mainline churches, and therefore they are untouched by the pressures of the world. Should the churches cease from persecuting the cults, over time, they may very likely fall to the sway of the world just as the mainline churches have done.
Pastors set the example for the church. What the pastors preach from the pulpit dictates what those in the pews will do and accept (under the guise of belief). If the pastor preaches a message of Christian brotherhood, love, and striving for perfection, that is what the church will endeavor, to one degree or another, to do. If the pastor preaches a message of condemnation toward those bearing the name of Christian, if they teach that there is nothing to do beyond being baptized, everything else being of a voluntary nature, then the congregation will sleep and fall prey to the world's influences and attractions. If the pastor lives a slovenly life, adapting himself to the ways of the world, then no amount of preaching otherwise will overcome the example he is setting. Children become like their parents, they don't become like what they are taught by their parents.
Jesus is the Shepherd of the flock, not the pastor of the churches. The pastor is the porter, the caretaker of the sheep, he is not the ruler nor the one who dictates the rules by which the sheep are to live and to think. If we keep this in mind, that the pastors are not the shepherd, they are not the ones who are to set the doctrines (nor to convey the doctrines of the denomination they're attached to), then they would be more apt to seek out the truth, outside the box of doctrine, so that they may advance the church and the people rather than hold them back as they are doing.
Churches and denominations have built a fortress around themselves with the intent of, not keeping out the enemy as they should, but to imprison their sheep and prevent them from looking outside the box that's been constructed for them. Doctrines are intended to teach us, to set us on the right path to truth. But when doctrine, the ideas of man, becomes the all-in-all rather than the path, they become chains.
God's Church does not have walls. We build the walls that separate us. And in building walls to hold our congregation prisoner, we also close out what truth God has implanted in each of the denominations. We see this in the Pharisees. Jesus Himself told His disciples to listen to the Pharisees and the Scribes because they held the truth, that is, they sat in Moses' seat. The problem was not in what the Pharisees taught when they taught the Bible, but when they taught the hundreds of doctrines they added to the Bible. It's the same today. We, that is the churches, have added scores of beliefs that have little or nothing to do with salvation and serving the Lord, and have minimized and set aside the very commandments of Jesus. Then, to give extra credibility to these demands, they are given such names as "Articles of Faith, or "We Believe." Now tell me, how can anyone say what someone else in the same building believes? That's easily answered: No body believes anything. Everybody just gives intellectual consent to whatever is expressed because nobody cares.
If anyone actually cared about finding truth, instead of stopping their ears to those who disagree with them, they (I'm particularly talking about pastors here) would desire to sit down with those having differing views and learn what that person has to say. They may walk away from the table believing exactly as they did before the discussion, but they're bound to have gained some insight into the subject discussed. And even if nothing is gained by the one, perhaps the other has learned something new. It's for sure that refusing to sit with someone who does not agree with us and hearing what they have to say rather than condemning them unheard is going to accomplish nothing whatsoever.
Even those differences that seem to have machine guns protecting them are purely conjecture and of no consequence. For instance the Trinity. Is there a Trinity? Maybe, maybe not. Jesus didn't say: "Believe in the Trinity and you will be saved."
How about the Virgin Birth? Where, may I ask, is it stated, or even hinted at that one must believe in the Virgin Birth? That was merely placed in Scripture as one of many signs that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. And then it could only be seen by those of us long afterwards because we see the entire picture. It was hidden from those during Jesus' time.
As for the Trinity, the evidence for this fact (if indeed it is a fact) is so hidden that evidence for it has to be drawn from a verse here and a verse there. God certainly likes to hide His evidence. But those issues that are of major importance He screams at us, He doesn't hide it.
Is Jesus the Son of God? Maybe, maybe not. To some this becomes a critical issue that demands blood shed if denied. However Jesus seemed to have no such dictatorial attitude toward the matter. I have no doubt if He thought it of major importance that we believe He was God Himself He would have made it very clear. But He didn't. As it seems to me the evidence for such a contention outweighs the opposing view. But what I or anyone else believes is of no consequence. Jesus said to believe on Him. Believe what? Believe that Jesus is God? That's not what Jesus said to believe. He did say that He was in the Father, and the Father was in Him. But He also said we the believer are in that triangle. Yet for someone to stress that fact causes tempers to flare. Jesus said He was the expected Messiah. That is what is to be believed. Adding to this is nothing more than playing Pharisee. And to this Jesus had much to say. Jesus also said that He is our Lord, and that we are to follow Him. This is what should be stressed rather than the other. But it isn't. Instead we are instructed to follow Jesus to the baptismal tank and no farther. I don't think Jesus is going to approve of such teaching.
What words are to be said at one's baptism. Does it matter? In some forts it is critical. I don't find that so critical when I read the Bible. In fact I find the thief on the cross was not baptized at all. But what he did do that brought him salvation is essentially lost in the churches. He confessed Jesus as the coming Messiah, and he confessed that he was guilty of his crime and worthy of death.
Those Articles of Faith, as I see it, are useless pieces of paper that the Lord will blow at come Judgement. However there are some things Jesus will judge very harshly that are not taught from the pulpit any more. Jesus said to work, and our works will be judged. Yet the churches teach that works are naughty and not to be performed. Chains to hold down the congregation. Jesus said not to judge, and we will be judged according to how we judge others. Yet the churches judge with anger anyone who disagrees with them. How do you suppose the Lord will react to those who judge one another because of the church they happen to attend?
It's not our church affiliation that's going to save us. It's not our beliefs that will save us. It's our obedience, our following the lead of the Holy Spirit, it's our love for the Lord and for one another that will save us. I think the Bible is very clear on this. Arguing amongst ourselves and condemning one another in the Lord's name while wearing the Christian name tag I believe is going to bring great condemnation down on us. There's been a great deal of going contrary to the will of God and calling it God's commandment. There's been a lot of consigning of people to hell by the churches because of disagreement. I think hell will be full, but not necessarily full of those who have been consigned there by other church members.
I believe there should be an ecumenical meeting of the minds, but not with the world. Nor do I believe the churches should come together to find a lowest denominator to which they all can agree. This is the thinking of the world. The churches should set for itself the highest of standards to live up to, not the lowest as is being done. Jesus set the example, and we should live up to that example. His example to us was the maximum, and that's what He demands of us, and of His body the church. Compromise is not an option.
Open communication is lost in the churches. That tells me the Holy Spirit is not flowing in the churches. And who will be held to blame for the quenching of the Holy Spirit within the church do you suppose?
Does it sound like I believe the Mormon should be shunned? Then you haven't been listening to what I've been saying.
I said the ones going far out of their way to spread the Gospel are considered to have knowledge of but a very few passages of Scripture. And I said I find this not to be so. But I do find that very few members of the mainline churches have any knowledge of the Bible at all, nor are they interested. They may read a chapter or two a day of the Bible, with half an eye on the tube, but they only do so for the same reason they attend church on Sunday: It's the thing to do. As to having knowledge of the word, I find that, for the most part, a mainline Christian will have all the pages of their Bible covered with colorful marks, but those marks don't mean a thing except to impress others with how "Spiritual" they are. All their information comes from a small piece of paper the size of a credit card called "We Believe" that states everything they're supposed to know, as least according to their pastor that's all they need to know.
Does it sound like I'm defending the doctrines of those called a cult? Then again you haven't heard what I've been saying.
I believe that if the pastors were earnest in their search for the truth, and if they were to be concern about me (or anyone), believing my views of the Gospels were going to send me to hell, then they would do all they could to show me where I'm wrong. Instead they do nothing, and they say nothing, and they certainly don't listen to what I have to say. I should think the pastor would do all he could to get me to leave the church for fear I might contaminate someone with my "false" doctrine. I would respect such a person more than I do one who sits back and says nothing, except with potshots from the pulpit.
I hope I'm not describing you or the pastor of your church. In fact I hope I'm all wet from the get-go. Maybe none of this is happening and it's all just in my paranoid imagination. I only have my own experiences and my observations to go by. You have your own. In your opinion, does any of what I say here apply? If it doesn't, then all the better. If you find it does apply, then what are you going to do about it? Right or wrong, I'm sticking my neck out and speaking up. What are you going to do?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
7Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. 11For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 13And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. 16I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
17And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. 18Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. 20Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. 21Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; 22Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. 23And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 24And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. (Ezek 34:)
4Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD: and I fell upon my face. 5And the LORD said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary. 6And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, 7In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. 8And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves. 9Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.
10And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. 11Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them. 12Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their iniquity. 13And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed. 14But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein. 15But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD: 16They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge. (Ezek 43:)
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