Like Shepherd like Sheep
One of the greatest, God-given assets the church has is its Spirit filled, Spirit led and Spirit taught leaders. The Lord has provided these shepherds and ordained that they should feed and care for His children. He has equipped them with all the spiritual gifts, talents, and abilities necessary to represent Him to the flock over which He has made them overseers. He has chosen them to plant and water fields which will one day be ready for harvest. The leaders He has chosen have been called to this service; men who meet the biblical standard for integrity and have the ability to model it in their daily walk with Christ.
Such men have a strength and steadfastness often misunderstood by the spiritually immature. These men exhibit humility not seen in the manner of their deportment. Indeed, they may seem as bold as Peter but their humility is demonstrated in their willingness to serve others. Always available, these Godly men are ever prepared to give counsel, or help another find answers to life’s problems. Though others view them as teachers they are more likely to see themselves as perpetual students of God’s word. They are and will remain disciples who, because of their open heart, are ever searching and willing to receive more truth. Conscious always of the greater condemnation (stricter judgment) that awaits them, these shepherds watch and vigilantly protect the souls in their keeping like a lioness protecting her pride or as one who must give account to the chief shepherd at His appearing.
1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.(KJV)
17 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. (KJV)
Shepherds do not run when danger approaches like some hired sheepherder throwing his staff to the ground and fleeing at the first sign of a predator. Neither do they stop to consider if they’ve been paid enough to risk injury for another’s flock. Seduced by power, fame, popularity, influence and material security, today’s so called shepherds, (pastors) have become, in all too many cases, nothing more than the hired men spoken of by Jesus.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. (KJV)
There is nothing new about this, it’s been happening for centuries. Even in Ezekiel’s day, God declared His displeasure with the self serving practices of Israel’s spiritual shepherds and yet these practices continue.
1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.
5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.
6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD;
8 As 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;
9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD;
10 Thus 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.
If this isn’t enough, Paul’s second letter to Timothy warns about a time near the end when the shepherds will be controlled by the very sheep they have been chosen to lead. This happens when the voice of the congregation is heard above the voice of God’s delegated authorities. The congregation having control of the shepherd’s income use the financial purse strings to gain control. These same strings are used to manipulate these puppet pastors by turning them in any direction they choose.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (KJV)
We need Godly leaders who truly understand the commitment required to care for the churches they oversee. Men who demonstrate this understanding by living in the belief that it might be necessary to lay down their life for the brethren.
I John 3:16
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (KJV)
When trouble strikes the church and wicked men come to scatter the sheep, their first thought is to attack the shepherd. It’s his name on their lips when they decide to persecute the body of Christ. It’s the leader that’s beaten, imprisoned or murdered (Matthew 26:31) (Acts 5:17-18). Once the leader is disposed of, the sheep are without protection and fall prey to their enemy.
We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8) so then God’s grace is available to those who have faith enough in Christ to receive it. How do we get this faith? How do we know of the atoning power of Christ’s blood? Faith comes by hearing the word of God. We hear the word from those who preach it.
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (KJV)
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?(KJV)
The hands of martyred Christian leaders stretch from one to another across two thousand years of time. Our leaders and teachers have become a lifeline of lives which carry the message of God’s forgiveness and eternal life to all who choose to receive it. The sacrifice and blood required to bring this good news is beyond man’s comprehension. To get a mere sampling of the price paid on our behalf, to receive this most important news, you need only turn a few pages of the “Martyr’s Mirror” or “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.” If you can read more than a few pages of either of these historical manuscripts and come away without adding your tears to their pages, you need to check and see if your spiritual pulse still beats. God’s own word admonishes us to know them that labor among us as elders and esteem them highly.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
13 And to esteem them very highlyin love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. (KJV)
We’re cautioned to always relate to them with respect and to never rebuke an elder but rather entreat them as a father (1 Timothy 5:1). Those elders who manage the flock of Christ are worthy of twice the honor. First for being successful managers of their own homes and second by being successful managers of God’s, the church family.
1 Timothy 3:4
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (KJV)
1 Timothy 5:17
17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. (KJV)
In the early church, those who labored in the “word” also labored in the market place for their daily bread.
II Thessalonians 3:6-10
6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
8 Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (KJV)
Indeed, Paul worked along side Aquilla and Priscilla making tents while Luke practiced medicine (Colossians 4:14) etc.
3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. (KJV)
The gift of God had come to all men free; he charged us nothing for His sacrifice how then can we charge another for what we received at His expense? We are called Christians which means Christ-like or perhaps followers of Christ. How can we profess to follow Him if we charge a salary for what He bought, paid for, and gave to all unless we do as He did.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (KJV)
The apostle Paul who taught us those things reminds us that he, himself, though able and worthy to receive monetary reward, preferred to labor, working with his hands. Why? So he might be an example to others.
1 Corinthians 4:11-12
11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place;
12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: (KJV)
True, the workman is worthy of his hire, if indeed his desire is to be a hired man. What was the example that Paul was trying to set if not freely receive freely give? Truly, the elder who labors in the word is part of the body he serves; entitled to share in all benefits accorded to those whom God has entrusted to him. He may accept individual gifts of food and drink also from those he labors among but not a salary.
7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things asthey give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. (KJV)
34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (KJV)
Jesus didn’t pay a salary to his disciples. Have any given more than they? He kept them clothed and fed and much more. As God delegated authorities, His shepherds must understand that powerful, wicked, spiritual forces will at times try to discredit them; to smear their names and reputations so none will pay attention to the truths they teach. Their sinful pasts will be dug from the dirt like a putrefied corps and held up to destroy them; to scatter the flock they lead and cripple the work of God. The fact that they are forgiven, washed in the blood of the lamb, made new with a past forgotten by God, will not be remembered by those immature sheep prepared to cast the first stone.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (KJV)
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (KJV)
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (KJV)
For this reason it is vitally important that no one accept an unfounded, unsupported or unsubstantiated accusation against an elder. When any accusation is made it should be supported by at least two or three witnesses before being considered.
1 Timothy 5:19
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. (KJV)
The age of the offense should be considered and conduct as touching the leaders integrity since the offence.
I John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (KJV)
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (KJV)
Godly leaders must be free from all coercion, intimidation, manipulation, or any other form of control. They must be free from all controls but one. God’s control! They must never allow anyone’s puppet strings to be attached; strings attached to their pride or their purse. A leader’s dependence must rest securely in the Lord; He is the only true source of supply; He is Jehovah Jireh! Once a man of God allows one string to be attached to his life, he no longer belongs to God, but to the one who holds that string. By placing his dependence on man he has broken his relationship; his trust with God. His message must in part or in full conform to the dictates of his controller or at the very least become suspect. His loyalty is now tied to those who hold his employment or his ambition in their hand. These string pullers; these puppeteers may be a national or district denominational headquarters or a local body of elders, a council or even the congregation itself. When the congregation isn’t happy, nobody’s happy, for the financial wealth of a church or denomination rests with the local assembly. Offend the assembly and you risk a mass exodus from the church and with it the financial hemorrhage that follows. The church or denomination no longer has the financial resources to continue its monetary or political growth. At denominational meetings the largest churches most often carry the most influence. Why? Because they control a larger purse and a larger segment of the voting membership.
In the old testament book of Numbers, in the sixteenth chapter, we find a similar situation. Moses’ right to lead had been questioned. After all Moses was just one flesh and blood man and the descenters were many. They too, held high office among the people; who was Moses to think he had the authority to govern them. They evidently had taken an inventory of the people and decided they had the power of numbers on their side and thus should be able to determine their own future. Moses stood alone in this contest…or was he? Moses stood with God and God with Moses. With God goes the power of numbers; He is the majority! The opposition was considered a rebellion and God hates rebellion. The rest of the story, like those who rebelled, is history (Numbers 16).
The Lord’s church and His kingdom is not a democracy but a monarchy; a kingdom with a king. He, our king, is not an elected official but the ruler of all creation. Our Lord, on the night He was betrayed, in the upper room, at the last supper, told His disciples that He must die. He did not suggest that His twelve disciples take a vote to approve His plan of redemption. True, the Lord Jesus Christ served His disciples but He obeyed always the chain of command. For Jesus that meant His Father. His Father before civil authority, before church authority, before His own authority and before the disciples whom He loved dearly.
Christ represented His Father always just as we must always represent Christ, no strings attached.
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (KJV)
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (KJV)
Brethren, we must serve our Savior and king first, before all others. We must not trust in the will of men by depending on their ability to keep us from need or harm. What would it profit us if we were to gain the wealth and power of the entire world and loose our own soul (Mk 8:36)? If we serve men for money how can we truly and independently serve God? If our desire is to please men, how can we please God?
22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (KJV)
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (KJV)
Brethren, we must represent God before men at any cost, no strings attached. This is the only way we can truly serve men. There can be no compromise in this, we must represent the Lord before all men. This is the will of God. In the same way that our Lord and king obeyed His Father, we must always yield to the will of the higher authority and there is no higher authority than God.
1 Thessalonians 2:4
4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. (KJV)
19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. (KJV)
All authority comes from God. No authority exists that has not been granted by God (Psalms 75:6-7) (Dan 2:20-21).
The eyes of God’s chosen leaders must be steadfastly fixed on Christ alone. His testimony and his life must always point to Christ. The words he speaks must declare the way to Christ. If the leader, in any way, comes between Christ and the church, he becomes an anti-Christ. The leader must never become a mediator between God and those for whom Christ died. The position of mediator has always been filled and cannot be occupied by another (1 Timothy 2:5). Those who dare venture into this forbidden territory become cult leaders and their followers a cult. Leaders who claim special knowledge in addition to God’s word or special understanding of it that can only be understood by the privileged few are false teachers and likely false Christians. Those who claim new revelations which contradict God’s word or who attempt to discredit it are also false teachers.
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (KJV)
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (KJV)
1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: (KJV)
II John 1:9
9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (KJV)
The leaders of the early church who put their lives on the line were not interested in winning theological debates. I know of no theological debate worth the life of even one of these precious men. It would have been stupid for any of them to sacrifice their life to win an argument, but truth, now that’s something else. True, Spirit led leadership cares little about winning a heated discussion but is always willing to do whatever is necessary, to sacrifice anything necessary, to preserve and reveal God’s truth. Today’s church leaders can be divided into two camps. The largest of which is more interested in justifying hand-me-down, man-made doctrines, than putting them at risk to find the truth. If you doubt this take any obvious error in their belief system or confront them with any unpracticed New Testament teaching and see how anxious, how willing and how quick they are to change. Will they send out an emergency bulletin or petition the denominational headquarters for a change in doctrine? No! They’ll just stick their heads in the sand and pretend they never saw or heard it. The leaders will look the other way; they’ll ignore the truth and instead try to justify the error rather than deal with it.
Once a leader or denomination believes they have all the answers, all the truth, they can learn no more. Each leader must remain open to the continued teaching of the Holy Spirit. You may believe you understand something completely but, when another confronts you with evidence from God’s word that reveals your understanding to be in error or incomplete, what should you do? At this point your true colors show. This is your moment of truth. Here is where you discover what manner of leader you are. The choice is simple though the decision may be hard. Will you argue your unfounded position, acting like a spoiled child demanding to be right, or will you be mature enough in Christ to humble yourself in favor of truth? Which will win? Will your desire for truth succumb to your pride? If you remain unwilling to be convinced you may or may not win the debate, but for sure, you’ll miss the gift of truth that God had for you. Had you allowed yourself to receive this gift of truth you would have become a better teacher. Each day that you receive new light from God, you’re better equipped than you were the day before. Truth resisted builds hardness of heart. What does it hurt to listen? Remember, you have only one mouth but two ears, learn to use them proportionately.
God, like the U.S. Marines, is looking for a few good men; men who like those in His blueprint, are willing to humble themselves before any and all who posses the wisdom of God.
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (KJV)
Those who seek to belong to the same church that was founded by the Apostles should be led by the same type of leaders they were. Such men should meet the measure given in God’s word. They should be men of integrity, men of truth (1 Timothy 3:1-13).
The restoration of the early church rests with the Spirit of God and His leaders’ ability to follow it. We must not attempt to serve God our way. The only hope we have of pleasing God is to serve Him His way. Men are called-out by the Holy Spirit and their mission is the advancement of truth, not the preservation or perpetuation of a man-made, polluted, religious political system that has a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof.
2 Timothy 3:5
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (KJV)
If we hope to follow God’s blueprint then we’ll need men who know how to find its truth and follow it in obedience. They must be able to recognize their own errors; mistakes in their biblical understanding. Men who have the courage to admit error, break into pieces their own walls of pride and tear out of their heart any deviations from God’s holy plan. The Lord may speak through the newest babe in the congregation or your fiercest enemy. He may speak through a fellow Christian. He may speak through an unbeliever or jackass but no matter how He speaks, true leaders will hear and obey Him.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (KJV)
The early church movement is not another reformation but rather the restoration of the early church, the church of Acts, the church that Jesus built. Yes, it still lives and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. It’s alive and well though, as always, small in size and huge in Spirit. It cries out for leaders who, without the need for material gain, will offer themselves as a living sacrifice, dedicating their lives to complete its restoration. Such men are created in the fires of adversity, tempered in the watery floods of sorrow and tested on the rocks of misfortune and pain. Often, such men have been broken by sin; crushed into dust so that God could teach them His grace and recreate them in His image. God, in His mercy, has taught them that He delights in using broken things. In this way they learn to stand in His power rather than attempt to stand in their own (Is 42:3). These men have the kind of compassionate understanding which can only come from the ruins of painful experience. Men like this don’t show up to lead. No! They’ll show up to follow, but lead they will!
In the early nineteen hundreds, the safest place a baby could be was in the soft, warm, protected environment of its mother’s womb. Today, the womb, like a Nazi extermination camp, has become a place of torture and death. In a similar manner, the spiritual babes of today seek a warm spiritual place of refuge; a place to grow and know the love of their Heavenly parent. These babes are gathered together under various brand names and taught what to believe, what to think, and how to express it. Like huge breeding houses, these denominations hope to perpetuate their esoteric doctrine along with whatever truths they may be privileged to know. Each label (denomination) carries its own set of beliefs to be fostered onto the next generation by its own hired men. In this way they insure that division remains alive and continues from generation to generation.
As stated, not all that is taught is wrong. Most of what is taught is good and only sprinkled with error. The greatest damage done is done through the system itself. The denominational system advances separation and thus conflicts with God’s word. God’s blueprint calls for unity, not division.
1 Corinthians 1:10
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (KJV)
Denominational teaching is introduced to many at childhood and never questioned. Like shepherd, like sheep division is carried on from generation to generation.
Jesus spoke of fields of souls white with harvest. He asked us to pray for laborers to be sent forth into the harvest but many have entered the harvest who God has not sent. Men who have been deceived into believing they’ve received God’s call to go. These men reap with the sickle of deception. Reaping and storing the harvest in huge barns where the harvest is left to rot. The stench of this rotting harvest reaches the nostrils of God. These barns marked by steeples are a mockery to God. God will one day shake these spiritual warehouses with their rotting fruit and fire will reduce these works of wood, hay and stubble to ashes.
37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (KJV)
2 Peter 3:10
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (KJV)
Not only have we locked up the sheep but the shepherds as well, in convents, rectories and monasteries. The most dedicated, those with the most potential, who were willing to lay aside the companionship of a mate; those willing to give themselves completely to God; those who would take up the cross daily, are shut away for life never to realize the fulfillment of God’s plan for their lives. What a waste! What a tragedy! These precious servants are cut off before they can make any significant contributions to God’s kingdom or do any damage to Satan’s. This horrible truths should bring tears to your eyes.
Filled with religious fear, the fear of losing their soul, they allow themselves to be held captive. They are made to believe that their church is the only true path to salvation; when the only true path to salvation is through Christ Himself (John 14:6). Peter didn’t start the Roman Catholic church, he started the church, period, and it had nothing to do with Rome. It began with three thousand and became the church at Jerusalem (Acts 2:41). This was what Christ was referring to when He said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). These poor deceived souls have been trapped in a false religion, One that makes great boasts of its spiritual power over the soul. For fear of losing their soul, those within this corrupt system obey like blind sheep being led to slaughter. Who is behind all this? God? Never! The spirit of antichrist is already at work and this is the sickening proof of it.
II Thessalonians 2:7
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. (KJV)
God’s fields are being harvested and stored by hired men; men who have deceived themselves into believing they're serving God when in reality they serve His enemy. These men lay siege to the flock of God and hold them until they become a reflection of themselves; Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. The fruit of God’s field was meant to grow to maturity, nourish others; its seed meant to be planted in new fields bringing forth new generations of fruit after the first. Like the camp of Israel who escaped the bondage of Egypt, all these children of bondage can produce are wilderness children, wanderers who can’t find their way home. A rotting harvest of impotent fruit kept neatly bundled together by a system of religion designed to hold them captive. Like the angels that left their first estate waiting in chains for their release into the lake of fire (2 Peter 2:4). Those who wait in these spiritual warehouses are awaiting the same fate though unaware of it now. They’ve been deceived by believing that merely hearing the word is enough. They come to hear the word and hearers of the word they are, but not doers; indeed they are deceived.
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (KJV)
Who is sounding the warning? Where are the shepherds? All around are hired men. True, some of these hired men could be shepherds if they could leave their employers to follow God but most won’t. Where can we find true shepherds? Should we look for them in the schools of the Pharisees? Among the traditionalists? How about seminaries? Maybe we should look for those with BS after their names; suitable initials for what they have to offer. Better yet, what about those with MS after their names or could it be that these initials simply stand for More of the Same. Of course, we can go for broke and hire a PHD but these letters might only mean Piled Higher and Deeper, after all, it was Paul, the educated Apostle, that counted all such recognition as dung.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (KJV)
Any who refuse to get in line with the system are threatened with having the strings cut; their income cut off. Frightened, these puppets have come to believe that the church is their source. These poor fools have come to trust the bride rather than the groom for their daily bread. Christ and Christ alone is the source of life within the body physical and spiritual, there is none like Him. With all their education and credentials they have succeeded in being professionals; in other words, trained, hired men, but men with no knowledge of their true source of supply. When our Lord picked men He selected them from among the weak, the simple, the ignorant and the morally bankrupt. In these He could reveal His power and glory. Many of today’s church leaders have answered a call from God they never received. Encouraged by family, church leaders and friends they have chosen the clergy as a profession. In doing so, they come before God burning strange fire (Leviticus 10:1-2).
There is no God-ordained profession of clergymen to be found anywhere in Christ’s blueprint. Like Aaron’s two sons who, because they had knowledge, believed they could assume duties carried out exclusively by their father, the high priest, but were instead awarded with death for their effort. Many congregations today languish and die because their leaders lack the unction of the Holy Spirit. The sheep become no more than a reflection of their shepherd. In many cases the congregation picked these leaders, not God. By picking their own educated but uncalled leaders they have committed what amounts to spiritual suicide for their church.
Spiritual things are understood by spiritual men who are not man pleasers but God pleasers. They are men who maintain their loyalty to God, free of the stings that could turn them into puppets; such men have no desire to meet the world’s expectations of them as highly trained intellectuals, but seek only to meet the moral requirements specified in God’s blueprint.
1 Timothy 3:1-13
1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
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.(KJV)
Why not college-trained, educated seminary graduates? If Christ had wanted intellectuals exclusively, He would have picked the top twelve graduates from the school of the Pharisees rather than fishermen from the shores of Galilee. He would have picked leaders rather than followers. He would have picked from among the esteemed rather than the defamed. Paul’s testimony itself reveals a desire to separate from his own notable intellectual standing.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 I f by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (KJV)
In the second chapter of Acts we find Peter’s first spirit-filled sermon; the sermon that officially launched the church. It was this sermon that brought in the first fruits of the church, gathering three thousand souls to the kingdom. It was this very sermon to which Christ was referring when He said, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock will I build my church…" (Matthew 16:18).
God has seen to it that His recorded word has been carefully preserved, translated into every tongue and delivered to all peoples and nations. The Lord has seen to it that all may study His word and discover how to obtain His approval. Each has the opportunity to work through the scriptures with integrity, not permitting sinful prejudice to interfere, but instead to find God’s truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)
Now that the word of God, God’s blueprint, is in the hands of His people then we don’t need teachers, right? Wrong! To the contrary. Building projects need superintendents and inspectors to assure us that the structure conforms to the blueprint. God’s people need overseers and teachers to make sure that all of the specifications of His word are properly understood and carried out. We need spiritual leaders to answer questions, model God’s word for us and hold us accountable to the truth contained in it. We need leaders who, like fathers, can promote a spirit of love and unity among us, helping us work together to advance Christ’s kingdom.
The process of kingdom expansion is accomplished by Christ’s own system, one He taught when He walked among us. A system known to all as discipleship. This system of learning does not advance the intellectual vanities of so called higher education but rather insists on moral integrity. It makes no provision for intellectual supremacy but demands strict adherence to God’s specifications for leadership.
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:
6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
7 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;
8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
9 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. (KJV)
Clearly, the method used by Christ to develop leaders according to His blueprint is discipleship and none other! How else can God’s word be taught together with moral integrity while the progress of each is being observed? Education is not the central requirement for leadership, though a necessary tool (2 Timothy 2:15). Formal education is not even suggested as a qualification for leadership. It’s time we consulted the blueprint once again. What does God’s word have to say about the educationally wise, the educated debater?
1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5
17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew notGod, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency ofspeech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words ofman's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (KJV)
All great educated debaters and debates produce division and only serve vanity (1 Timothy 6:20). It is clear that God’s blueprint has already established a system of learning. It was begun by our Lord Jesus Christ. It was effective in His days upon the earth and it’s effective today. It’s called discipleship. Discipleship is simply others who learn from others to teach others.
2 Timothy 2:2
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (KJV)
For many of us this is wonderful news. Many who have felt God’s call have failed to answer that call feeling they weren’t qualified. Welcome home to the real church! Think of it; if we have a strong relationship with Christ, have a willingness to serve and obey God’s ordained leadership, if we’re willing to study and live according to His word, if we’ve been blessed with the spiritual gifts necessary to fulfill His propose for us and have received His call, we can hold whatever place He has equipped us for, and we don’t need a college degree to do it. Hallelujah! As yet, there is no better system for teaching than the one He began known as discipleship. Unlike the learned individuals found in today’s pulpits, disciples not only teach God’s word, but model it. They don’t do it for money; they do it for love. They don’t serve the God of education, they serve the God of Christ.
If we’re not going to the schools to find leaders, then where? First, we must go to God in prayer to seek His direction, then we must figuratively turn to the shores of Galilee. We must again look among the fishermen, tax collectors and tent makers. Our selection is not nearly as important as His. Out in the countryside or in the city market, places we’ll find the same unnoticed laborers Jesus did. They’ll be found among the ordinary, the sin forgiven, the broken. They’ll be those whom God has chosen to accomplish the extraordinary, those picked by Him to do His will. From among those that others expect nothing will come those with the power to accomplish everything. They’ll be equipped with the power of God, the Holy Spirit and everyone will know that it’s God’s miracle and not their educational excellence. He will pick up the broken pieces of their lives, knit them together and through them reveal His might. From among the world’s castoffs He’ll select men whose only hope is in Him; those who, through His grace, live to glorify His name; those who have learned from Him the meaning of forgiveness. Those who have experienced the joy of redemption. From these men will flow fountains of living waters; waters of forgiveness, waters of mercy, huge irrigation canals that feed the precious garden of God where His fruit grows and the sheep of His pasture come to drink freely. Men cannot make such shepherds; schools cannot produce them. They must be fashioned by God’s own hand.