After being loyal to King James' Version of the Holy scritpures for the entirety of our Christian lives, even though we felt the translation made the truth regarding local, church governance hard to discern, we discovered there is a very real reason we felt that way. The following is an excerpt from Bible Gateway, emphasis in quotes added: "In January 1604, King James VI...convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as "detected" by the Puritans. James gave the translators instructions intended to "guarantee" that the new version would "conform" to the "ecclesiology" and "reflect" the episcopal "structure" of the Church of England and its belief in an ordained ""clergy."" The translation was done by 47 scholars, "all" of whom were members of the Church of England."
If this doesn't make you aware that we all, like the Puritans must become detectives, nothing would. No surprise, for King James was not born gain. Had he have been, he would have understood that no one makes scripture conform or reflect to doctrines of men but that the scriptures themselves are to conform us and cause us to reflect God's glory. The majority, if not all translations were undertaken by men who we have no certainty were even born again. Thankfully, those believers who have been and are born again, have the promise of the Spirit of Truth guiding into all Truth.
"That government is best which governs least" is exemplified in New Testament Christianity, not what is called church today, but what is in deed the body of Christ we can see in scripture and are to emulate -a body where all believers submit one to another and are ultimately all subject to the headship, Spirit and leading of Christ. Man made organizations do more harm than good, are more dangerous than safe and have nothing to do with the apostles' doctrine where the churches were bound by the common faith and voluntarily interacted with and supported one another.
We will endeavor here to at least shine a light on error and point to the scriptural solution for a teaching that is no less than antiChrist. If we fail to reject falsehood and instead partake in it, we aid and abet some of the worst offenses against humanity and the creator. Atrocities have been committed and screams of truth suppressed in the name of Christ for centuries. God's people are commanded to have nothing to do with this, to come out and be separate. Come out of her my people...
Paul, apostle of Christ, warned the elders of the early church "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Three years of tears while the apostle warned our brothers, sisters and elders day and night that "of your own selves" shall men arise and to take heed and watch. Why are so many utterly failing to apply even more needed vigilance today?
Over 2000 years ago, Paul left Titus on an island with a mandate to "Set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders(plural) in every city(singular). Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23 The New Testament notes at least three times Jesus calling his disciples to him, and saying, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto , but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:25-28(also see Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:25-27) There are no such words nor the concept of a divided body of clergy and laity in the Bible other than the Nicolaitans. It is a different gifting and service to labor in the Word and in doctrine but can the head say to the feet, I have no need of thee?
Jesus alone is worthy. Jesus alone can handle real power. Thus, all power is given unto Him. The Lord is not the designer of the CEO hierarchy for His people. There is no such example or pattern in scripture of a solo pastor/priest shepherding the flock. The Biblical model is that of elders -a plurality of men along with a plurality of deacons "with" the saints. These men do not have to obtain doctorates, degrees, attend seminary or obtain a license to preach issued from a manmade religious organization to become elders. They must do something much more challenging. They must meet, with their lives, the Biblical requirements for elders as the Bible clearly outlines in I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9
The Bible explicity warns against the doctrine and deeds of the Nicolaitans. Jesus praises the church that hates what He hates. We also see the bad example of Diotrophes who "loved the preeminence." Besides Diotrophes, the apostles named other men who were being corrupted and corrupting such as Demas, Phygelus, Hymenaes, Alexander, Philetus and Hermongenes. Men were trying to make disciples to themselves and not to Christ early on. Thank God the apostles dealt with this for us. If we neglect to heed the scriptures, we dishonor their labor, sacrifices and persecutions to our own peril and the peril of lost souls.
"Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes and love greetings in the markets, and the higest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers; the same shall receive greater damnation." Luke 20:46-47
Anyone that teaches Moses as a type of solo pastor is teaching error. Moses was a type of Christ. We desperately need all gifts in operation but the word pastor is never mentioned once in singular form in the New Testament, KJV. The word pastors, plural, is mentioned one time only. We do need the gift of pastoring, but not in the way most churches currently misunderstand it. Each of the local elders in one church per city should be able to serve the body with a unique gifting, depending on what the Lord created them to be and the work His Spirit enables them to do. There is no scriptural basis for any one man, save the man, Christ Jesus, being exalted in position or rank above any other in the body, rather equipped to serve. Jesus alone is exalted. He is the head of the church. He is the Saviour of the body. He will not be head in name only, but must function as such. He will not give His glory to another. Exalting man causes the body's view of the head not only to be eclipsed but severed. Godly men abase themselves and are willing to labor side by side, not loving the premminence, knowing that Jesus called a little child to him to illustrate rank in the Kingdom.
It would seem that the Lord has worked with and often around the solo pastor system in this last century as saints in the early part of last century struggled to find fellowship with anyone of like precious faith, anyone who even believed the same gospel. They had what were called "battleship meetings" where basic doctrines of the faith were hammered out and many went their separate ways. However, as we are at least in the "beginning of sorrows" phase of the end of this world and Jesus told us what comes next, we must awaken ourselves and others to the apostles doctrine of ordainining elders(plural) in each local church(singular). With this doctrine not set in order, one could spin their wheels on issues until Jesus returns.
Please don't take anyone's word for it. Study the apostles' doctrine and pattern of church oversight for yourself. Start by searching "elders" versus "pastor" in the New Testament, keeping in mind that the term bishop is used interchangeably with the word elder. Souls and world revival depend on continuing stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine which entails "setting in order the things that are wanting." Titus 1:5
One serious precaution is that everyone seems to have a different idea of what they call eldership. Many say they do have elders but oftentimes what they mean is that they have some older men who assist(and too often are simply yes men to) the solo pastor. While we desperately need the wisdom of elder men who are in the faith, elders replace the position of a solo pastor. They are not under anyone but Jesus. They are not in subjection to an unscriptural form of church structure.
Another precaution is solo pastors saying that they are subject to what they call elders hundreds of miles away. The apostles ordained elders who were accountable to one another locally and the whole church on a local level. Knowing one another locally provides true accountability. Paul, the apostle, mandated that scripturally qualified elders be ordained in every city. If that was necessary 2000 years ago, it is more needed now, especially when there was never another pattern for church oversight laid out by the apostles. Only then will there be a fighting chance of becoming the end time church God wants us to be, ready to reap the waiting harvest, equipped to make disciples and blessed to function as a healthy family and body. This will require vigilance, being watchful and spiritually alert and loving Jesus more than our life. Our practices and the spirit of all we do must match the instructions of scripture and align with the Spirit of Truth.
Regarding the unsound use of titles for and exaltation of men inside what is to be a body of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers -family, not so long ago, even some of the most well known and respected preachers in holiness circles went by brother, even if it was still a sort of title. But now, even being called pastor is being taken up a notch with the use of bishop as a title. One preacher even went so far as to say Acts 2:38 preachers are the "cardinals" of the Apostolic church.
Please again note that the King James translates elder to bishop in certain verses instead of simply using elder throughout. Bishop = elder, which the KJV calls an office which is defined as "a duty, charge or trust of a sacred nature" by Webster's 1828 Dictionary. To serve as an elder is a function of serving the body, not a position or title. There are no ranks. An elder is one among equals. Jesus is the shepherd and bishop(guardian/overseer) of our souls. Elders = bishops = overseers in the body of Christ were never meant to be an elevated priest class, obstructing the view of and connection to Saviour by the body. Jesus commanded that we call no man Master, Rabbi or Father. The overuse and misuse of the word Pastor as a title or even name in so many modern day churches fits into the same category. Again, the singular form of the word pastor can not be found once in the New Testament. Yet in most modern day churches one would think that there is no other function or that the solo pastor is the totality of the local body of Christ. How does that fit with "All ye are brethren?" The Bible tells us to "Greet the friends by name." III John 1:14 The body of Christ is more of a family than flesh and blood. Friends and especially family address one another on a first name basis. That is not disrespect. That is true fellowship of a body undivided by class or rank.
Should a solo pastor and his wife kneel down in front of an outgoing solo pastor and his wife in an ordination ceremony? This is just another example of the error that unsound doctrine produces. This is not the sound doctrine of the apostles or Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter refused men assuming positions in front of him, lifting them up saying "Stand up; I also am a man." Angels refused men assuming positions in front of them, redirecting worship to God. Jesus commands that we worship God alone.
There are ministers and their wives living in altered states of reality that could cost them their salvation. Wake up anyone who is under the deception that Jesus has levels or ranks in His body. There is no classism or segregation in the body of Christ. This delusion is cheating believers out of genuine fellowship with the "whole" church. It is divisive. The first shall be last and the last first. Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Jesus. Repent and awaken to reality and join the rest of the body for the glory of God and salvation of all of our souls. Brothers and sisters are what true believers really are. When we do things God's way, it brings true freedom and release from manmade burdens.
A closing thought is that we have so many wonderful things to discover in scripture as well as so many safeguards to practice. Until this doctrine of the rightful headship of Jesus is established and scripturally qualified elders ordained, wheels will spin and souls will be lost. The following portions of scripture allow a glimpse into some of what we might be missing out on in not doing things God's way: I Corinithians 14:29-31 or I Corinithians 14:36 Sirs, we would see Jesus. We must see Jesus. Jesus' church while orderly, doesn't require a liturgy. We have His Spirit. And yet, until the false doctrine of hierarchy is addressed, we can not experience the fullness of what Jesus has for us.
A final warning -the apostles' doctrine is for the protection and good of all. When we follow the pattern in scripture, it will only work for the betterment of the body as a whole. There is safety in the Lord and walking in His ways. Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall Deceive Many...if it were possible, to deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." Matthew 24:4-5,24; Revelation 12:9 KJV Satan which deceiveth the WHOLE WORLD. Watch and pray. Let no man deceive you. "And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." Mark 13:37
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42 If book of Acts Christianity is what you hunger for, it is up to you to help make it a reality.