X04.08..........Fighting Our EXPERIENCE
If we have an over-riding EXPERIENCE of a certain concept, it becomes very easy to accept it just the way it is----and becomes very difficult to see the truth--even when it is written in the Bible.
1. PASTOR----What is a "pastor"?
Well, everyone knows that---right?
He's the guy who dresses extra special on Sundays--and stands in front of everybody, and we pay him money, and has the God-given right to teach the church and "have the rule"--have "authority" over the church. He's the leader, that God has appointed---right?
What is your EXPERIENCE in this area?
What does your EXPERIENCE tell you a "pastor" is?
Have you ever read the Bible and studied about "pastor"?
Well, if we are already sure what a pastor is, we don't have to do much studying. Most folks, if they ever dared to ask the question (what is a pastor?)--would be shown Ephesians 4:11--
"There it is---see--the word "pastor" is in the Bible."
If we already know what a "pastor" is and does--then all we need to see is that the word is in the Bible. We might be shown references to "sheep" and "the flock"--there are a handful of those in scripture.
"See---shepherd---sheep---flock--those words are in the Bible--see--now shut up and show up to church on Sunday!"
Is it possible to fight our EXPERIENCE and study what the Bible says?
If we did repent of our EXPERIENCE and study the Bible we would find that the gift of the pastoral anointing is a gift of service for any Christian to operate in--and it is the gift of releasing others to serve God.
Now look at that simple definition and play it up against your EXPERIENCE.
2. What about a "bishop"---what is a bishop?
Again, the word is used in the Bible (a few more times than pastor, in fact)
Well, what is a bishop any way?
Ask any Catholic--they know!
"Oh yeah--he's the guy who wears a really big crown-thing on his head and visits the church once in a while and asks for money and throws holy water at everybody and we have to bow our heads when he walks by. He is part of the hierarchy of rule within the church--priest--bishop--cardinal--pope---that's the way God wants it---right?"
Well, most protestants would say NO!--that's not what God wants at all! Yet at the same time--protestants generally have no real definition for a "bishop"---it's kind of a title that goes to someone who is old in the church --or someone who has a great big church--or something like that.
Well, who is right?
(Maybe you can see what I mean when I talk about church EXPERIENCE. Look at our catholic brothers and sisters. Us protestants say "wow--are they ever bound up by their tradition, their EXPERIENCE. Their EXPERIENCE gives them God as a complete ritual--and sets them so far under man's authority that they don't even believe they have the right to pray to God themselves--certainly not to minister and serve God in any real way--other than to serve the purposes of the church and the hierarchy. A bishop, according to catholic tradition is a type of political ruling office--something which was originated a long time ago in a very dark age. But that EXPERIENCE is carried on firmly and powerfully as an intrinsic part of the catholic function)
What is a bishop according to the Bible?
What did a "bishop" do in the church in the Bible?
Simple---bishops (and elders--the older folks) were people who organized the ministry that all the other people in the church did. The church in the Bible consisted of "bishops" and "deacons" (more about this later). The leaders of the church (a group--not an individual) were organizers of the rest of the people. And (news flash!) the rest of the church were believers who operated as apostles, prophets, evangelists pastors and teachers.
Wow--different--probably NOT your EXPERIENCE!
3. Apostles---next question--what is an apostle?
Well---any takers on this question?
Answer: When it comes to apostles, we have absolutely no EXPERIENCE!!
The answer that many have is that the apostles were the founding fathers of the church. Well, okay, that's a start---but it ignores all that the rest of the new testament says about apostles.
The word apostle is used over 400 times in the new testament. Some times it is translated as the word "sent".
Apostles are all over the new testament.
Jesus operated His ministry (from beginning to end!) by apostleship.
Jesus called Himself an apostle of the Father.
Jesus prayed for apostleship in all His followers (and specifically NOT just for "the 12"--somebody read John chapter 17!)
The church in the Bible operated by apostleship--simply following the example that Jesus had set for them.
Paul says we have been given "grace and apostleship" (is he just bragging about himself--I don't think so!)
So, what is an apostle?
simple: a group of believers that work together to spread the Gospel. (the spreading of the Gospel is simply this: witnessing salvation, healing and deliverance in Jesus' name--feeding the poor, and freely releasing others to serve God--Luke 4:18-19)
And, what is apostleship?
also simple: the concept that the church ought to operate all it's ministries in small groups. Apostles work in small group--but so should teachers and prophets and pastors and bishops/elders. All the ministries of the church in the Bible were plural---small groups of equals--brothers and sisters in the Lord--carrying on the purposes of the Gospel.
Important point (which is ignored totally by our EXPERIENCE)---apostles are supposed to be the 1st--most important ministry of the church. Secondarily prophetic ministry--and teachers come in last.
"And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers...."(1Corinthians 12:28)
The mission of the church--ALL the church--is supposed to be the spreading of the Gospel--and it is supposed to be done by small groups that work together.
Brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Without any exercising authority over anyone else (except for Christ--He is the One and Only Head of the church)
Oh-oh--What did I just say about "exercising authority"?
One final EXPERIENCE question for you......
What is "ministry"?
What is the EXPERIENCE answer?
Well, a servant of God maybe?
Yes, that is right!
"ministry" means service--to serve others.
Are we all called to ministry?
EXPERIENCE answer: some say yes, some say no.
the Bible clearly says we are all called to serve God---BUT---our EXPERIENCE tells us that only "some" people are called to have the special "offices of ministry"--a "five-fold" minister.
Oops--small correction! Someone read Ephesians chapter 4 (the whole chapter--or at least verses 1-15). The Bible says that these gifts--these "anointings' are "given unto every one of us". Ephesians 4 makes the point that God is "in all" believers--and therefore, so is ministry (yes--"5-fold" ministry!)
the Bible never says that "ministry" is a special club--an elite group---(with incredible over-riding "rights" within the church). Instead, ministry (service) is something --a gift--which we have all been given, by God--to build His body in the earth.
so ministry is very very important--because it is the gift within all of us, that is meant to build God's kingdom in the earth
In other words, the more ministry, the better (for God and for us!). The more ministry we have operating--the more God's kingdom will be built--the more people will get saved, healed delivered, fed and released. God wins--Satan looses. The Gospel is spread. Heaven grows--Hell is plundered. (the stuff we Christians are supposed to be doing--all the time--as often as possible--big hint--if we worked in small groups--it would be easy to carry on these ministries daily--which is just what they did in the Bible--see Acts 2: 42-47)
One more question about "ministry"---
What is ministry NOT?
Let's let Jesus answer this one....
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye
know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship
over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: (Mark 10: 42-43)
25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye
know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and
they that are great exercise authority upon them.
26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; (Matthew 20: 25-26)
25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles
exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them
are called benefactors.
26 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. (Luke 22: 25-26)
Answer: "ministry" is NOT authority over other believers.
Well, you see, the pastor is the servant of the church--uh--right?
Well, our EXPERIENCE gives us a church format and church rules that say the pastor/bishop/priest/whatever you want to call him, has all kinds of rights. He is usually the sole teacher of the church. He usually determines who will do what--the order of the ceremony--as well as controlling the finances and future of the church.
Well, God tells the pastor and the pastor tells us.
Sounds good. Fits our EXPERIENCE. But it is NOT in the Bible at all.
Something much better is.
Who gave us our EXPERIENCE in all of these areas? Who defined our EXPERIENCE with regard to ministry and authority and the definitions of apostles and pastors and bishops?
Answer: the Kings of the Gentiles! (somebody study history!)
About 1700 years ago the Roman empire (certainly the "Kings of the Gentiles" that Jesus was referring to) reformed the church to fit their EXPERIENCE. Their experience (as Jesus says and history verifies) was a hierarchy of authority, but--man's authority--not the direct authority of God that the New covenant gives every believer--and is meant to operate the"church" (the Bible says that Christ is the "only potentate" of the church--the only One who is meant to have any authority over the church). They established the format of the church--they eliminated apostleship--they re-defined ministry as authority over others--just what Jesus said it is NOT supposed to be!
so, who's EXPERIENCE do we have?
Where did our EXPERIENCE come from?
EXPERIENCE---can we ever get over it?
Sure we can! Study the Bible. Study the history of the church.
It isn't so hard---you can do it!