Church Government Part 5 - Eldership Rule Part 3

I asked the author of http://www.truthguard.com/ to respond to my page Church Government Part 4 - Eldership Rule Part 2. Normaly I would not create a webpage based on replies back and forth. But this is an important issue and one which there is a lot of confusion and abuse. My hope here, is to bring more clarity and understanding on the issue of Elder Rule. The author of truthguard.com's responses will be in dark blue.

I assure you I can back up my stance from the Bible using Scriptures (in context). I mention context because the author takes a passage from Scripture woefully out of context (see below) in order to try to justify that pastors have a rule over the church, but not a rule over the people or specifically over the private lives of the people, a dichotomy which is clearly an institutional view. Pretty much only those who see the church as a building or institution can split the church into two non-existent separate parts: institution and people. The church is not part institution, part people. The church of Jesus Christ is a all PEOPLE! The church is 100% God's people. His contrary view betrays a lack of understanding of, not what the church is, but WHO the church is. So it is from a very limited understanding on the subject like this that gross sweeping assumptions are often made by many Christians, not just the particular author in question.

I agree that many fall into institutionalism, and while I have admitted to have not read his entire site, he has done the same of me. But he hasn't given any information or revelation of that which I may have missed, but if he were to read my site, he would see I am very much against institutional church as seen here:

The 2 1/2 Tribes that didn't Cross Over

He takes a very black and white approach to church rule; all or none. While I stand against elders and bishops making or ruling over personal lives, it is not a black and white issue. Young Christians need oversight and bishoping in their lives even in their personal lives, but not over or against their will. Nor should it be in such a manner with their will, when it falls into shepherding. There should be no brain washed sheep who want to submit to a man more than to God.

I am not advocating a white washed institutional church where the elders have no weekly or no personal relationship with the congregation. Church is not a Sunday only existence but we are to be a body strung together working as a whole.

After he quotes my use of James 3, he states:

Nonsense, this passage, even indirectly, has nothing whatsoever to do with elders ruling anything let alone God's people. In the Greek, the word “masters” from James 3:1 means “instructors or teachers”, not governors or controllers. The first verse is warning that there should not be too many teachers as they will receive the stricter judgment. The rest of this passage is admonishing all Christians (with a specific emphasis on teachers) to be careful with what they say with their mouths, nothing more. That's it. The rest of the passage that he does not quote (verses 5-12) confirms this emphasis...

He is taking this totally out of context, maybe even injecting some kind of symbolic meaning that is simply not there, to try and support his preconceived notion of clergy power.)

It is true I use James 3 as an "example" of how elders rule symbolically. The Bible is not a book of doctrines one can pick up and read the exact answer to a theological question. A prime example is trying to find 1 scripture that states clearly Jesus is God. You can't find it. The same is relatively true with the Trinity and other doctrines of the christian faith. This is why you find statements like this:

1 Cor 13:12: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1 Cor 2: LITV
2 For I decided not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and Him having been crucified.


Paul was certain of nothing except Jesus and Him crucified. This is why ministers shall receive a harsher judgment, because it is up to them to dissect scripture and feed the sheep.

Math 15:36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
 
Mark 6:41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.
 
1 Cor 3:
9: For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
10: According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
 
James 3:
1: My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 

Christianity is about faith, not absolutes. I discuss this on point #15 on my Tenets page:

Statements of Faith

He goes on by quoting me here:

“Elders steer the church. They don't steer households, they don't steer individuals, they steer the flock.”

He responds: 

This is nothing but control in a different package. He doesn't seems to understand that the Greek word church [ekklesia] in the Bible is not an institution, building or business that somehow needs to be managed. The word church [ekklesia] in context means “a called out people of God”. So for elders to steer a church is for them to steer a people. There is no way around it. An elder who rules the lives of the sheep is ruling the church and an elder who rules the church is ruling the lives of the sheep. You cannot separate the two as he attempts to do. These are essentially one and the same concepts. If elders are steering the church, they are certainly controlling the people.

This is partly true. The problem is that there is a problem, many elders do rule the sheep where they shouldn't. But scripture tells them how to and where not to:

Heb 13:17 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.

1 Pe 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
 
There is indeed a distinction or separation of this. Scripture has such separation.
 
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
 
The words "dividing asunder" here in Greek is the word "merismos". Most Christians do not know the difference between the soul and spirit. Elders and Bishops oversee souls, as Shepherds they feed spirits. The abuse occurs when these lines are mixed.

Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls...

John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

They do not crush spirits. At least they are not supposed to.

Isa 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.


He goes on:

Further, we never once see the Apostles or elders in the New Testament ever creating initiatives, projects or programs. They did however recognize needs such as other churches in need of a gift and they facilitated the taking of an offering and facilitated the brethren deciding who to send to deliver that gift. But that's about it. They did not dictate these things like the doctrines that they received from God (and therefore had every right to dictate those as Scripture). Never once do we see the Apostles or elders ever doing things like building a church building let alone for their comfort and convenience. They held no building fundraisers. There were no institutions or businesses parading around as churches needing or crying out to be governed. The Scriptures we have on the subject as well as the absence of this type of controlling behavior is compelling evidence in favor of cooperative decision making in the church (not “governance” as that word simply does not apply to a New Testament church). I am not talking about voting, and an interesting fact is there is actually not too much that needs to be decided upon in [or regarding] a non-institutional church assembly. So all the fear-based claims that we hear of all the chaos and confusion that we are told will result without someone “taking the reigns” in the church is utter nonsense and propaganda that keep men in power, men who would dare to be kings over God's people.)

I agree that there are to many institutional programs. And I discuss these dead works here:

The Gospel of the Kingdom Pt1

But there are indeed times when God makes aware to the church needs of other people. And the elders take authority.

1 Cor 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 

This was for a collection of food for Jerusalem due to a famine.

In one case, this was made known by a prophecy. And the elders took a collection. This may or may not have been the same famine (Acts 11:27-30)

There are times when God may call for a fast or times of prayer, or some other spiritual event that has a physical participation, and God will use the elders to make such a call. They cannot nor should not force a fast, but they can call for it.

He goes on:

In the Bible we see the Apostles, Elders and general church members deciding on things like this together – see Acts 15:22-23 - Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. Acts 15:22 NIV [Emphasis added]).

Not quite true:

Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 

I will give another possible understanding of Acts 15. I first read/heard about the following interpretation from one of Kenneth Hagin's books. I am not convinced how true the following is, but would lean more to that than the author of truthguard.com.

http://faithsite.com/uploads/147/95699.pdf

Who makes decisions concerning the affairs of the local church? Who's in charge? Who is accountable before God? A deacon board? An administrative board? A council of Elders? A committee? These questions plague Christians around the world. Acts chapter 15 is the model for decision making in the local church. We see a beautiful picture here of godly church government. This is a New Testament SNAPSHOT! From this chapter we discover that the whole Jerusalem church congregation had a VOICE. In other words, any member of the church was welcome to VOICE their comments or suggestions on any issue. Then the apostles and elders (staff missionaries and pastoral staff) gave their ADVICE... Combining this chapter and other references to James in the Bible, as well as documented historical data; there is no question that James was the Senior Pastor of the church of Jerusalem. Notice that it was the Senior Pastor, not a committee, or some other GROUP that made the FINAL DECISION. You see, in a local church everyone is of COEQUAL VALUE to God. There are no "BIG ME'S AND LITTLE YOU'S". And in the local church there can be COEQUAL MINISTRY; meaning the Senior Pastor may have other gifted speakers or ministers on the church staff as well as responsible and gifted laymen. But both scripture and proven experience teach us that there CANNOT be COEQUAL AUTHORITY in the local church any more than there can be COEQUAL AUTHORITY between a school teacher and her classroom of students.


After the people of Acts were able to give a VOICE, the church staff was able to give wise ADVICE, and after Pastor James made the FINAL DECISION or VOLITION considering the VOICE, the ADVICE, and the SCRIPTURE; EVERYONE supported the decision. They stood together as a united voice.


This case of church doctrine which Paul went seeking help on, was a complete failure. You do not see any churches today following the list they gave and I discuss church error and mistakes including this one where the congregation had an input here:

Has the Church Failed?

Here are 2 links which also discuss this, though once again I do not necessarily agree with them on everything:

Can a church be scriptural without elders?

The Biblical Model for Church Organization


He quotes me again and responds:

“Or who decided on what is to be preached and taught during services? Who steers the direction of the church? The doma ministers”

Again, institutionalism / an institutional mindset at work. First, God and God alone [through Christ His Son], steers the direction of the church by His written Word as illuminated by the Holy Spirit who brings clarity as to what that Word means (or what it does not mean as in cases of men misquoting it or quoting it out of context). Further, the idea of a “church service” is non-existent in the Bible. The author is confusing and inextricably welding certain aspects of as private para church teaching ministry [e.g. a valid absolute control over teaching topics] to the role of teaching pastor in an assembly. These are not one and the same scenarios. A pastor who teaches, in the capacity of his private para church teaching ministry, may certainly decide on what he might teach on. But a true biblical assembly is interactive. It is not a lecture hall. It is not runaway teaching ministry on steroids or a never ending lecture. Ironically, most Christians today who “go to church” every week or several times a week have never really ever attended “church” in the sense of a true biblical assembly. The vast majority of Christians are stuck in a quasi para church ministry / church hybrid [which, being an unbiblical mixture, does neither job effectively and causes tremendous confusion]...

Sadly he has put me into institutionalism again. I do believe in participation by the congregation. The congregation can even prophesy. But these are to be judged by prophets (doma elders).

1 Cor 14:27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Sometimes when the Holy Spirit moves, like during worship or praise, non elders may prophesy or give a tongue and interpretation. In most cases an elder will or should follow up with the same. If not, they can a least give a word of wisdom, or counsel, or interpretation which steers this "word". And there are even cases where the elder will take the reigns of this "word" and minister on it throughout the rest of the service. But regardless, the service is directed and steered by the eldership. And yes under the guidance of the Godhead.

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

He quotes me again:
“The Bible tells us there is government giftings."

Rom 12:
6: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us...
8: ... he that ruleth, with diligence...”


An institutional mindset generates exactly this kind of misinterpretation. The church is not an institution to be governed, but rather a people to be guided towards more and more obedience to God's written Word, not compliance and conformity the agendas, initiatives or traditions of men. It is well documented that word “rule” in the King James, as well as other similar words, were mistranslated by heavy handed translators attempting to instill the idea of clergy control and apparently at the behest of King James himself.)

So he completely ignores Romans 12:6 & 8! Says its a translation issue! I will respond with statements I have made before elsewhere:

Gnosticism states one must have special knowledge to understand scripture. There are different forms of this today. One common one, especially amongst denominationalism is education. Many state that the common man cannot understand scripture unless he goes to college.

This is bogus, I am not sure where I learned the following... in college the deep courses/classes deal with Romans and the work of the cross. But yet, that knowledge should be the standard of the normal christian. Not the educated elite.

Secondly, I discussed elsewhere the idea of laity verses priests. I could quote it all here and hope people see the similarity but would rather get to the point. Why would God cause His Bible or the lack of protection and allow the Bible to be mistranslated, causing the common man to need education to translate it himself or rely on certain "priests" to do it for them? This is a type of Gnosticism this author perpetuates, though probably unknowingly. I will refer people here to another term which scripture calls "The Doctrine of the Nicolaitins".

Here is a great webpage from a great pastor about it:

THE DOCTRINE OF THE NICOLAITANES

I discuss how and why God protects His word here:

What is the Highest Standard to Find God With?

I also discuss how God protects His word and makes certain His Word has many prints/copies here:

The Protected and Inspired Word of God

I also discuss God's divine Word of God here:

The Word of God

Now like Paul did once, I can be foolish too, and use Greek definitions like this author did to prove his case.

Acts 20:17 And sending to Ephesus from Miletus, he called for the elders of the assembly.
28 Then take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit placed you as overseers, to shepherd the assembly of God which He purchased through His own blood.


The definition of overseer in Greek:

1) an overseer
  a) a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent
b) the superintendent, elder, or overseer of a Christian church

But rather than having to look all that up, can't we take God's word as God's word?

Numbers 23:19:
"God is not a man, that He should lie, neither the Son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction (for what He has promised). Has He said, and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good?" 

Psalms 119:89-91:
"Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands. They stand this day according to Your ordinances, for all things are Your servants."
 

So does scripture say more on the government of God's people?

Isa 9:7 There is no end to the increase of His government and of peace on the throne of David, and on His kingdom, to order it, and to sustain it with justice and with righteousness, from now and forever. The zeal of Jehovah of Hosts will do this.

From the New Testament:

 Gal 4:1 ¶ Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
 

He quotes me again:

“The[y] seek the Lord on the direction of the church, and steer it in that way. Or they should.”

No they do not. We already have the direction for the church in the Bible. This kind of thinking opens wide the door for all kinds of different churchmen claiming that they heard all kinds of difference things from God, erroneously and outrageous putting their self-generated thoughts on par with Scripture. This is a main reason why there are so many problems in the church and why there are so many different denominations and independent “non-denominational” churches,which are essentially nothing more than clever one-location denominations, all doing their own eccentric things and spreading confusion. It's no wonder the average unbeliever on the street is so confused as to where to find truth.)

Once again he ignores this truth:

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
 

Doma elders are here to perfect the saints, until we come to the unity of the faith. Now if he is of the group that claims the perfect has come (1 Cor 13:10), which group claims its the bible, then why can't he take the Bible's word at face value?

I also would like to point out why there are so many church directions. It's due to the failure to be Baptized in the Cloud. I discuss this here:

The Baptism into the Cloud

He quotes me again:

“But church leaders don't decide where you work, what clothes you wear, or who you are to marry. They don't rule other households..."

True, but neither are elders allowed to control any aspect of a Christian's life or church life [assembly life] in general, which is a huge aspect of the Christian life, more spiritually all-encompassing than the more domestic things that he touches on here.

Elders do control church life, under the guidance of God and scripture. Eph 4 as shared above twice and:

Acts 20:17 And sending to Ephesus from Miletus, he called for the elders of the assembly.
28 Then take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit placed you as overseers, to shepherd the assembly of God which He purchased through His own blood.

Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 

1 Co 4:17 ¶ For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. 

Heb 13:17 Yield to those taking the lead of you, and submit, for they watch for your souls, giving an account, that they may do this with joy, and not with grieving; for this would be unprofitable to you.

1 Pet 5:1 ¶ I, a fellow elder, exhort the elders among you, I being also witness of the sufferings of Christ, and being sharer of the glory about to be revealed:
2 Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not by compulsion, but willingly; nor eagerly for base gain, but readily;
3 nor as exercising lordship over the ones allotted to you, but becoming examples of the flock.

Heb 13:17 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. 

1 Pe 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
 

In conclusion, if we are to take God's word at face value, trusting in God's ability and power to keep His word, and believing that the need for special people to translate scripture for us is condemned by God, and that God does not require His followers to have special education themselves; we can see that Elder Rule is scriptural, although it is greatly abused in the Earth today.

I also would like to say, that it may all be just futile anyway, because I have yet to find this Biblical example in churches today. But it would be wrong to say that they don't exist. Cause I just don't know. 

I would like to clarify. I have yet to find a church, which operates in the Charisma's and with Elder Rule without abuse. There seems to be an abundance on the end spectrums. Churches that have lots of liturgy and ceremony but no abuse or Churches with lots of Elder Rule but have abuse. I did find one church which seemed to have a good balance of Elder Rule. They had elders and deacons correct scripturally, but they had no Charismas in operation. But then again I live in the heart of Catholicism and Lutheranism.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of believing in mistranslations. It's a very understandable probability. But if one simply trusts God and takes Him at His word one must realize it's all or nothing. When you do come to that realization then the probability becomes nil.

I think the author of truthguard hasn't thought all these points through, though I do know of groups who willfully believe in Gnosticism or that the perfect to come, has come and that it is the Bible. I do believe the Bible is perfect, but that is not what 1 Cor 13:10 speaks of. I also know of groups of people who do not believe scripture is protected. I do not know where he stands on these issues. I did find one article by him on his new site which discusses the Bible being God's Word:

http://www.heavensroad.com/doubting-thomas-or-due-diligence.html

But he isn't clear enough or has a double standard on these points.

I see evidence of contrary beliefs within his doctrines, one cannot believe the Bible as being the source of truth and then believe it has been translated wrongly. But he may not even have seen this contradiction.

I finally heard from http://www.wickedshepherds.com/, but he only wrote several short sentences denouncing these pages solely based on my doctrinal stance without any doctrinal or theological arguments. This is called an Ad hominem attack. See here for what that is: Ad hominem.

-----------------------------------

Links of Interest:

Church Government: Ascension Gifts vs Descension Gifts


Church Government Part 2 - Eldership Rule: Concerning the Shepherding Movement

Church Government Part 4 - Eldership Rule Part 2

Has the Church Failed?

Randy Shankle & the Church in Marshall

The 2 1/2 Tribes that didn't Cross Over

The Gospel of the Kingdom Pt1

What is the Highest Standard to Find God With?

The Protected & Inspired Word of God


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