Understanding the Gospel
THE HEAD OF EVERY MAN IS CHRIST
No Need of a Priest to Go to God
The most revolutionary and contentious doctrine, I believe, we face in Christ's 'Church' is the subject of the Priesthood and the professional clergy. Yet in the new testament church the doctrine of leadership headship and overseers remains a necessary doctrine. How do we reconcile the two principles? New believers will need to be discipled and brought to a form of maturity through the sharing of those who have achieved some form of experience in the Word of Truth and in Spiritual matters.
Gospel that Jesus brings has among its chief precepts, the removal of
any "priest" or "go between" between us, the individual, and God.
Biblically, the word ministry is translated from (Gr. Diakonia) Greek for service. Thus ministry means to serve. The love of God (agapeo) which is a Love that gives and serves finds expression through ministry. Yet, through generations of religious practice, ministry has come to mean something else, something formal and liturgical. Within the context of "church" practices ministry has been restricted to that which is done behind a pulpit and then only by a select few with appropriate certification or "credentials."
The Scripture informs us that the kingdom of God is founded upon the Chief Apostle, Jesus Christ and his mode of transmission of the Gospel is through "discipleship." Discipleship, is only minimally taught to congregations, and never in the same context of power and intimacy that Jesus shared with his original disciples. All believers are trainees or disciples in the Kingdom of God with the expectation that they are all called to minister. "As every person has received the (free) gift, so minister the same to one another." (1Peter 4:10)
The growth in the Spiritual life of God teaches and instructs us in the ways of the Lord and as we become transformed into him we can only expect to take on his attributes of service and doing kindness, (charity) through the Spirit of Love.
Unfortunately old habits and traditions die hard, and few question the role and appropriateness of trained clergy persons who in some cases may not even know God nor be aware of his promises and his power. These presumptuous disciples substitute sermonettes for the power of the Spirit.
point to be made here is that certain men are called and anointed by
God to do greater works with respect to the outreach of the Gospel.
The Gospel of the Glory of God touches and impacts people with the Power
of God to salvation and this power brings evidence that
Jesus is Lord and being alive, now supersedes the rule of Satan as Lord
of this world.
The Tradition of Clergy and Laity
The Clergy-Laity doctrine has for centuries divided the flock into two disparate halves. These two groups in this form can never be homogeneous. Ministry should not be mistaken for discipleship although there is a semblance of this. Shepherding is a form of discipleship and allows a disciple (all believers are to become disciples) to grow under the tutelage of a spiritually experienced believer.
Jesus tells the story of "The good Shepherd" in John's gospel chapter 10. He describes the characteristics of a good shepherd. It list among the virtues, intimacy and closeness of the shepherd to the flock. The shepherd knows each of his charges by name; he will sacrifice his personal comfort and life for the flock. Finally we are told that the Lord Jeshua, Jesus, is this shepherd. This fulfills what the psalmist had written almost a thousand years before, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." It is unlikely that a human shepherd can ever replicate the qualities of Christ Jesus the true bishop (overseer) and shepherd (pastor) of our souls."
Church House Leaders
A Spiritual shepherd chosen by God is a gift when found in a fellowship. He has no concept of owning the flock nor is his goal to personally make merchandise of them or gain any egoistic sense of superiority to them. He does not turn his ministry into a formalistic clerical presentation. Nor is he aloof separating himself from the flock in his care; Nor does he assume that he is the sole authority to speak on God's behalf! Every mature and maturing believer has a gift that when nurtured is meant to edify enhancing the lives of his brothers and sisters.
A "great pastor" is a mentor who has the necessary compassion and wisdom to model spiritual knowledge, hope, encouragement, wisdom and awaken and empower individuals. A pastor must be aware that he does not contain the full potentiality of ministry gifts, noted below. Spiritual mentors must call upon or permit additional ministry gifts to function as the Holy Spirit directs. (Ephesians 4 and Corinthians 1 chapter 14.)
The religious tradition of "Clergy and Laity" is not found in the Bible per se and must be examined in the light of Scripture. The practice no doubt made in roads into common practice through the doctrine of the five public ministry gifts (offices) described in Ephesians chapter 4. Throughout the apostolic letters we are told that mature men of God were to guide and direct and to maintain purity of doctrine and practices. These were to be overseers (Gr. presbuteros) of the local flocks of God. The intention was to keep the faith and traditions accurate and steadfast, holding the Apostle's teaching as the model. The original epistles were written with the intention of providing mature guidance to less mature believers who were being discipled in the faith.
elders or overseers were assumed to have been properly tutored
in practices of the Spiritual life and to provide balance and correction
as necessary to assure that true doctrine was maintained and enforced
among the fellowship. As time passed elders, pastors, or overseers began
to assume the whole responsibility of "ministry" and later presumed
upon itself, singularity of authority. In effect spiritual experience
and leadership began to devolve back toward the same kind of a priesthood
which Jesus had annulled in his New Covenant.
"Knowledge makes arrogant, love edifies."