LORDING IT OVER THE PAWNS
Christians have been taught by those who rule over them to never question religious authority. Thus, those in control equate themselves with infallibility and inerrancy.
And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.” [Luke 22:24-26]
This is obviously not the case among the majority of churches and denominational hierarchies. These always feature top-down leadership in which the congregants have very little say. Everyone is expected to merely obey what comes down from on high and respect their leaders with a respect deserved only for the Lord.
We could fix this and all the damage it causes by simply:
(1) Allowing the Lord Jesus to have full control, and
(2) Adopting the leadership method He taught and advocated for
We see His method very clearly in the New Covenant writings. One of the first things we notice was that there was never any “one man show.” There were always at least two men going out to minister together in evangelism and several men appointed as elders of groups. These were older men, hence “elders.” There was no central elder. The elders worked together.
This correct method eventually devolved over time into the incorrect method of rule by one man and this ruler became known as a “pastor” although there is no New Covenant authority for such “leadership.” Churches then devolved into clergy-laity set-ups in which the laity had no voice and were merely dictated to and told what to believe.
Whoever decided to invoke their God-given freedom to do individual research and study to become a better disciple was eventually falsely disparaged because his discovered truth always threatened those in charge.
Consider the following words of Paul written to Timothy, and remember such universal New Covenant discipleship terms applied to all Christians such as “servant” and “workman:”
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” [2Timothy 2:15-19] 
The Greek word translated as wickedness in this verse is defined as “injustice, unrighteousness, doing wrong, evildoers, iniquities, iniquity, injustice, unrighteous, unrighteousness, wickedness, wrong.” What could be more wicked than a Christian leader teaching anything opposed to the Lord’s teachings or refusing to teach the fullness of the Lord’s teachings?
CHRISTIANS ACCEPT THE REALITY OF THE WORLD WITH WHICH THEY ARE PRESENTED
At that time, the two guys mentioned by Paul had adopted a wrong belief and began telling others. It was up to Timothy, as advised by Paul, to avoid this type of “worldly and empty chatter” that leads to such “gangrene.” We know what gangrene is, and it is not pleasant. It begins with a small infection. The offhanded beliefs of the two men with no Scriptural backing were as an infection that invaded the community. The infection was teaching something as true that is not true.
Hence we understand the great need, especially in these latter days, to stand strong for the original teachings of the Lord Jesus and oppose strongly all the false teachings adopted by so many “Christians” since, who like those two men, have infected overall Christianity with various gangrene-like spiritual diseases which have spread far and wide.
It appears that in the majority of congregations, Hymenaeus and Philetus have taken over, and without much of a fight.
You will know them by their fruits.
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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Posted on November 26, 2017, in Real Christianity and tagged False Apostles, False Christian Movements, False Conformity, False Doctrine, False Gospels, False Prophets, Lord Jesus, New Covenant Teachings of Jesus, Pastor, Societal Pressure. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.
RJ, what about 1 Tim 3:2 and Titus 1:6-9?
Thank you, Bruce. This subject is a tad involved and I will try to condense my reply. Let us start with the terms involved.
In both of the passages you refer to, the applicable original Greek word is episkopos. This word is translated in the KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, and various other versions as “bishop.” In the NASV, DBY, ESV, YLT, and others it is translated much better as “overseer.” The NJB gives us possibly a further indication by using the term “presiding elder.” So, to start with, the person in this position is primarily one who oversees. Also, the original meaning of the position was not a static “office” but a place of service. It was only much later that these simple terms morphed into high-hat church ecclesiastical “offices” by using terms like “bishop.”
Returning to the word episkopos, it occurs five times in the NT. It is usually translated as either “overseer” or “bishop” in most versions but in 1Peter 2:25 it appears in several versions as “guardian.” This word also gives a good indication of its meaning. You will notice that “overseer” and “guardian” are self-explanatory. We also learn through the study of these words and the early church that the high, vaunted church positions we are familiar with keep getting reduced in size and scope until we arrive at the actual original organic place of service within which the Lord placed a man to serve as one who watches over, oversees, or guards.
At most, an overseer was a presiding elder among the other elders. We know from Acts 20:28 that it is the Holy Spirit who appoints men to places of service. In fact, in this chapter, Paul calls for the elders (plural) of the ekklesia of Ephesus and addresses them. It is poignant reminder of what real service for the Lord entails.
It must be emphasized that there was always a group of men in leadership and these men were accountable on many levels. They were accountable first to the Lord Jesus, but also to each other, and to every person in the ekklesia. There were no church boards or elder boards of sycophants and yes men, merely rubber-stamping whatever a top guy desired. They were equals. They were each responsible. In overseeing the churches, they also made it a point to oversee each other. If one man gained full power he would no longer be fully accountable because the level of respect would rise to a point in which he could not be reprimanded if he erred or lapsed. Even the apostle Paul subjected himself to other ministers to make sure he stayed right. Most of all, the Lord Jesus set the perfect example of leadership through humble service.
When Paul was writing to Timothy and Titus, he was not referring to the incorrect concept of a single overseer over a single church with full rule, or else he would be contradicting himself in so many other passages in which he referred to elders as a group in a single church. (See also 1Timothy 5:17, Titus 1:5, James 5:14, 1Peter 5:1, 5). We could go much further into a study of elders, deacons, and other places of service, but the point of your question and my reply is to dispel the notion of a single ruler. We know what happens whenever this takes place and we have reams of church history to know it is often not good.
There are certainly some men who can handle such a place of authority without abusing it but even so, the church itself still suffers by having only one person serving from a place of spiritual maturity and strength instead of several.
It is not easy for a group of Christians to work together properly, and it is not easy for a group of elders to work together properly, but the targeted optimum health and vitality of an individual church demands it. The easy thing to do is have a group of elders who merely recognize one among them as the final arbiter. In that way each is off the hook except the one. Now, here is the main point:
It is the Lord Jesus who is the head of the entire Church (Ekklesia) and He is also the head of each individual church or group. The overseers, elders, and etc are always supposed to get together and seek His will. One man cannot do this as effectively. But churches have been generally programmed to believe that a single “pastor” can seek the Lord and find His will with no help or support 24 hours a day every day of the year. This is not possible. It is why the Lord puts groups in charge but only under His leadership. When a single pastor does not fully subject himself at all times to the Lord there will be problems. It is much easier to stay right when the members of a group subject themselves to each other as well.
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Hi RJ, you are indeed one patient man! Thank you so much for all the detail, sincerely appreciate. – Bruce
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You’re welcome, Bruce. Blessings to you.
This is a story about an experience I had at a Christian cult.
I was hitchhiking in eastern Pennsylvania back in April 1998 when this man and his son picked me up. When I got in the car, immediately, this guy gave me the creeps. I noticed a Bible on the dashboard, so I thought maybe he was a Christian.
We got to talking and he asked me why I was hitchhiking. I told him that I was hitchhiking from Iowa to New York; I wanted to visit David Wilkerson’s church at 51st and Broadway in Manhattan. I am a Christian and love to read the Bible, but when we would talk about Scripture and the things of God, everything this guy said didn’t seem right—it didn’t bear witness with my spirit.
So he said that he lived in a Christian community in Saugerties, New York—in the Catskill Mountains. He said that it would be all right if I wanted to stay the night and then hit the road the next day. It was okay by me.
We drove to Saugerties to the “Christian community.” There were several buildings at the compound. There were probably 50 men, women and children. He showed me around the place and then this other guy showed me more of the place. I didn’t like being there right away.
These little kids would walk up to me like little robots and say woodenly, “Welcome to our community. It is so nice that you are here.” Or words to that effect. It seemed like little canned speeches. I would meet adults and they would say the same thing.
It was soon late afternoon and they had an evening fellowship meeting in the main building. It lasted maybe half an hour: singing, dancing, a little message from one of the leaders—the Spirit of Christianity was not there. It seemed so fake and artificial. The Presence of God was not there at all. It reminded me of a church back in Ames, Iowa that I used to go to back in 1987-1988—Great Commission Church—very cultish.
For some reason, I noticed this guy on the other side of the room. You could tell that he hated being there: he would stay for a few minutes and then he would leave—he did this a few times.
After the meeting, we went to the building where everybody dined. I sat down at this table and the guy who I noticed at the meeting sat across from me. He knew that I was the new guy in town, so he asked me a lot of questions about hitchhiking. He had never gone hitchhiking before, so I told him to put his trust in God and that the Lord would protect him on the road. He finished his meal before everybody else and shook my hand and shook my hand and shook my hand and smiled at me and thanked me for telling him about hitchhiking. He walked out of the building and on purpose walked by the window where I could see him and he smiled at me. At the time, I wondered why I was seeing this.
After supper some of us sat down in the living room and I was surrounded by five people. They told me that they were the ONLY ONES doing the will of God and that I should stay there permanently. I told them that I had planned on staying one night and then I would head to New York City. I listened to their propaganda for at least three hours and then I went to bed.
I didn’t sleep at all that night: I was on pins and needles. I told the Lord that I was in the pit of Hell and why did He put me here? I knew that God has everything under control, but I still wondered why I was at that cult.
Well, the next morning we all went to the morning fellowship meeting. The first thing that one of the elders said was, “Brother So-and-So escaped last night.”
I stood there semi-shocked and said to myself, “Praise the Lord! That guy that I talked to last night escaped. Now I got to get out of here.” Why would that elder use the word ‘escape’? Man, what a flogging idiot.
So after the morning meeting, I walked back to my dorm room and packed up my bag and walked out the front door.
The guy who picked me up in Pennsylvania was waiting for me outside and started yelling at me, “Tim, what are you doing?!” He looked very concerned as if something was wrong with me.
I smiled at him and said, “I’m hitting the road just like I said.”
Then he took this piece of paper and read what was written on it and said, “No. I am your leader. You must obey me. We are the ONLY ONES doing the will of God. You must stay here.”
I said, “Well, you boys keep up the good work, but I’m hitting the road.” I even shook his hand; it was like shaking a limp piece of nothing. He was really ticked off that I was leaving.
So I walked on down the road and eventually got rides all the way to New Hamburg, New York where I took a train into Manhattan.
I was so glad to get out of that Christian cult and I was grateful that the Lord used me to help that guy escape that place. But then I told the Lord, “Please don’t ever do that to me again.”
“Not my will, but Thine be done.” “Obedience is better than sacrifice.”
Maybe the title of this entry should be “Escape from New York.”
[Originally published by Digihitch.com]
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Thank you Tim. You had me captivated with this story. I believe that man you helped had prayed often and tried everything until you arrived. The Lord sent you. It was a tough assignment but so richly rewarding, both for the man who got the hell out of there (I use this for emphasis regarding a hellish situation), but also so your story can be told and retold as a warning about the possible abuses of some entities referred to as “ministries.” This is an extreme example, of course, but very cut and dried. It is those churches and ministries that are more successful in hiding this bad spirit that are more officially acceptable and are thus more beguiling.
So many Christians are fooled. They are deceived by improper leadership models/ministers and the tactics they use to coerce unsuspecting Christians to come under their sway and control. I could tell you plenty of stories from my long church career. It is a sad thing when one sees the full effect of the abuse of power. Most false ministers or those using false means would never, ever be “ministers” if they didn’t have control and if they couldn’t make a good living. Real ministers of the Gospel who serve the Lord Jesus will serve Him however and whenever with money coming in or not with no desire to control or use people. Thus, the Lord’s leadership model is often the very opposite of that which many “ministers” employ.
If we walk in the Spirit and stay close to the Lord He will direct our steps, give us insight, teach us, protect us, and reveal to us all the deceptive shenanigans other Christians who don’t do those things cannot see. They can’t see because they have either chosen to be immature or are yet immature. Someone must help those who want help. There are many who want to know and even be rescued but don’t know how or are deceived into thinking their bad leadership is right and they are wrong. Thank you again for obeying the Lord so He could rescue that man. I hope things turned out well for him.
Blessings to you, Tim.
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Legalism is a Godless form of control. Roman Catholicism excels in this. It is ancient and nothing new. As the Beast kingdom rises legalism will grow as a massive idol even controlling the right to buy food and drink. Idolatry alive in its peak form. But we know”The Lord is the Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” Apostle John wrote to the children of God saying finally to “keep yourselves from idols”. Thank you brothers for standing strong in the Lord Yeshua Messiah.
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Thank you, Gary. Great comment. In attempting to stop or limit sin, many forms of Christianity stop or limit spiritual freedom. Controllers may succeed in eliminating freedom among their assemblies and faux constructs, but the members thereof often sin to an even greater degree outside said constructs as a result. If Christians want to sin they will sin. Why limit the spiritual liberty of those with good hearts before the Lord only to keep up religious appearances? This proves the Lord is not in charge and man-made foundations are weak, in that much control must be applied.
Be Blessed, Gary.
Can you believe that when I started my Bible study blog, an ex-pastor accused me (not to my face, mind you) of usurping authority over church leadership! Good grief.
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(Laughing) About par for the course. Thanks Linda! (Some ministers are a tad touchy.) Keep up the great work!
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Hi R J,
Great reading this post and your long comment above on the bishop versus overseer scriptures. Loved it.
I have just felt it beneficial for myself to write some of my own experiences of being dominated, manipulated and silenced by “church leaders” over many, many years. I have had enough of all that now, and prefer to stay at home with the Lord, my bible, and blogging. Until the Lord answers my prayers to meet another sincere believer, at least.
Should you be interested, my latest thoughts on the over-lording, wicked shepherds, and a few of my experiences of them can be found at https://grainofwheatblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/30/my-sheep-hear-my-voice/
Thank you for the visit Helen, and the kind words. I have discovered in my many years as a believer that things go best when the Lord Jesus is in charge. That might sound obvious were it not for the fact that He often is not. We know He loves us all with His entire heart. He died for us. Who does that but someone who loves us? And His is the greatest love. So, it should be clear that He can be trusted with our hearts, and that if He is allowed to be in charge we will be blessed. But we must never mistake the inevitable attack of the enemy as discounting His love and authority. Of such is spiritual warfare and it goes with the territory. But when He is in charge our gatherings and lives will look more like the Book of Acts. Many places do not look like that at all, and it is most likely because the Lord has little or no authority, meaning someone else does. We must always remain loving and patient, and lean to His leading in these areas. It can be a tough thing to do, but we are commanded to allow Him to be the Boss. If so, His will can be done, and there is nothing better. Keep up the good work and be blessed.
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