God's Governance In The Church
One of the most troubling, confusing, and misleading teachings in all the churches has been, and still is, the lack of understanding about how the members of the body of Jesus Christ are commanded by Him to be ruled and governed as a church!
Why is Church governance such a problem? How did God mean for the church members to be ruled? Has He told us how in His Word, and it has fallen on deaf ears? Some in the church of God ministry believe and teach that church governance is commanded to be through a man-created hierarchy, with elevated offices of authority, all under a head church minister. Other ministers under this same man-created ministry, believe God's Governance is to be through a church-voted board, or an appointed council of elders, with one of them leading as the head minister, and who commands authority over the church. Has this type of church governance restored God's governance to the church, as they all proclaim? Are these types of church governments, the power and authority that is needed to keep members unified and walking in the way of God, or are they trying to supply the power and work that only God's Spirit can supply to unify church membership, including the ministry, and this church governance is a denial of that power? Is all of this, as God says in II Tim. 3:5, "having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof?"
Does God the Father, through Jesus Christ, our Chief Shepherd, teach and command that governance in the church is to be something very much different than what is being taught and followed in all churches? God the Father, and Jesus Christ, are man's Creators, and have all governing power and authority over all members of the body of Jesus Christ. All members are accountable to Them, and not to a minister, or his hierarchy of ministers. Then, why has the Church of God ministry taken to themselves God's authority over the church, and why have they caused members to believe they are first accountable to them, before they are to God? They have made salvation hinge upon the brethren submitting to their authority and laws (called policy and by-laws) in the church, and have exalted themselves with the power of authority over the church as overlords, and not as examples of helpers and teachers in the saving faith of the church members.
Christ gives example after example through His Life and Words about the church governance that He desires for the body of His elect! First in Mat. 20: 25-26, Christ commands and teaches His disciples by giving them a lesson in church governance, that is to be exercised through service and humility. Christ says, "You know that the princes (leaders) of the Gentiles (unbelievers) exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them." Christ tells His disciples that this is the way the leadership of the world govern their people, that they lord it over their people, by exercising a top down chain of authority over them, as a hierarchy, or an oligarchy.
This is the way all of the world leaders govern their people. Christ in verse 26 says, ..."But it shall not be so among you (the church); but whosoever will be great among you (who desires to be great by being over others in the church), let him be your minister (servant)." Verse 27, "and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." In verse 27, Christ then gave His own example as an example for leaders to follow when He said, " He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister--serve by example, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Many of the ministers of the churches of God have not, are are not following that example, but are instead being served by having the brethren work for them as bond slaves, to provide for all the ministers' living expenses, through a commanded "1st" tithe, a "1st tithe" that is nowhere commanded in the Scripture. Many of the ministers get offended and will correct any of the brethren, that does not address them as Master (Mr.). Plus the ministry demands even more from the "lowly" brethren (as they look upon the brethren) in the way of services and for their living expenses, from other benefits from commanded "2nd" and "3rd" tithes, that is not found in the Word of God.
The ministers of the Churches of God have made the brethren virtual slaves to serving them and their lofty positions of authority and power in the church, and what have the ministers produced in return? They have produced little or nothing in the way of spiritual substance, or in unity and perfecting of the saints! They have produced confusion, division, false teaching of God's Scripture! They certainly have not been doing the work of teaching the truth of the true focused Gospel, nor have they taught the truth about conversion, nor have they been examples of ministers truly keeping the commandments of God, that have produced love which fulfilled God's commandments as taught and commanded by Christ, Rom. 13:10.
Christ gave another governance example when He said the Kingdom of God, and entrance into His Kingdom is through having the heart of a little child, Mat. 19: 14, and Mat. 18: 3-4. Are these verses just for the "lowly" brethren, or is this teaching for all, including the "exalted" ministers? Children don't have a heart and mind of being a dictator over one another, but are humble and meek. Christ said this humble heart and mind is required to enter the Kingdom of God. Many of the ministers of the Churches of God must believe that they can enter God's Kingdom not having the heart of a little child as Christ taught, but having their "exalted" positions of authority, as hierarchists, by exalting themselves over the "lowly" brethren. They don't serve the brethren from positions of abasing themselves in order to serve the brethren, as humble examples of a servant. Another example of Christ, that He set before the church was that of washing the disciples' feet, John 13. Even though the ministry and brethren keep the service each Passover do they exercise this service in their relationship with each other the rest of the year. Most of the brethren are serving and kissing the feet of the ministers by their worship and exalting of the ministry.
The apostle Paul and others set the example of humility, service and working for their own needs in the New Testament church. Paul served the church and did not set himself up to be served. Where is this awesome example being exercised by ministers today? Peter exhorts the elders to serve as overseers, watching over the members' spiritual growth and safety, pointing out false ministers, and not to serve as hirelings, working for and worshipping money, but willing and ready, and not serving as lords (hierarchists) over the church, but being examples to the flock, I Peter 5: 1-3. The teaching that says "God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble," falls on deaf ears in the ministry of the churches.
Why do the hierarchists of the Churches of God believe as they do? It is because they believe that God's Word in Hebrews 13 gives them Scripture for their top-down rulership of authority in the church, where it says, "having the rule over you" means to them a hierarchical rule, Heb. 13: 7, Heb. 13: 17, and Heb. 13: 24. The word rule in these verses means, as an overseer, and Peter gives this as the meaning and understanding to the elders, I Peter 5: 1-3, not as being lords (elders of exalted rank and authority), but living examples of God's way of love and service to the flock.
How does God command and desire for His church to be governed? God desires to govern His saints through the power of His Holy Spirit. Study I John 2: 26-27. John was an excellent example of being an overseer of the flock, and not exalting himself as a hierarchist, and not even mentioning and exalting his own name in his writings. Today ministers not only exalt their names, but their own pictures in their writings. In these verses John, as an overseer in verse 26, is warning the members about those who are deceiving church ministers and teachers that will seduce the saints into believing certain teachings that are not in the Scriptures, and in verse 27, he says, "But the anointing (God's Spirit) which you have received of Him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him." Christ said, "His Words are spirit, and they are life," John 6:63. Some of today's ministers believe that their words are spirit and life and if you don't follow them and their organization, you will fail and lose out in salvation.
Christ desires to lead, govern, and rule every saint through the power of His Holy Spirit. God's Holy Spirit is the helper, sent from God to help His people, John 14:16. A minister, as a servant of God, and if God's Spirit really dwells in and leading him, can also be a helper to the saints in their rule over members, meaning to supervise them as an overseer, and not as an overlord. The "man ordained" ministers of today are lead by the flesh, and not by God's Spirit. They then create a power structure in the church, that they call a church hierarchy, where they try to rule over God's sheep by the ways of flesh, which is with cruelty and rigor, through their policies and laws of the flesh, instead of directing the brethren to Christ and His Spirit.
A real elder led by the God's Spirit is to be an overseer, or shepherd, that helps a saint to beware and spot the dangers of sin, evil influence, false teachings, heresies, half-truths, and false ministers who lead the flock astray. A Godly overseer directs the brethren's attention to God the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd. A leader who calls himself a minister or overseer, but who is led by the flesh of men, directs people's attention to himself, or to his worshipped, raised up, church leader, or to his church's hierarchical organization. These ministers have a ministry who seems to desire to dominate the faith of the brethren and bring them into submission to them, their policies, and church bylaws. These ministers are not helpers of one's joy, but stumblingblocks that cause the brethren to fall and stumble. This is what God hates and says is ruling with rigour and cruelty, and God through Moses, warned and commanded the Israelites not to rule one another with rigour, Lev. 25: 46 - "You shall not rule one over another with rigour." Rigour here means (S.6531) to break apart, cruelty, hardship, adding additional laws.
Yes, but many in the ministry of the hierarchy rule will quote I Cor. 11: 3, and teach that this verse gives them the example of God's teaching of a ministry hierarchy, where He says, "that the head of every man is Christ: and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God, (the Father) ." If this is a hierarchical rule, why hasn't the ministry been mentioned here in this verse? Why was he with his, believed to be, so self important office and position as a minister, left out of this believed to be hierarchical teaching? Paul is here making it clear that man is accountable to God, along with his additional accountability, when man takes a wife and the leading of his wife and family in the way of the tree of life, the way of God. God the Father, and Jesus Christ, are the Creators and have all authority. Men and woman are the creation, and are accountable to their Creators.There is no place for any other authority or a chain of command as of a hierarchical ministry to come between that relationship. God only permits ministers to be helpers and teachers if they have truly qualified themselves to be helpers in these God Creator and man creation relationships, otherwise they will be judged severely as teachers.
But at the same time, these hierarchical ministers will take this Scripture of I Cor. 11:3, and then add Eph. 4:11-14, to try to give Scripture strength and foundation to their members to teach their hierarchy, with its top-down rule and authority. God is teaching here in Eph. 4, that He gave His grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. God said in verses 11-13, "He gave some apostles: and some prophets: and some, evangelists: and some, pastors and teachers: for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: Verse 14, That we be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the tricking of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."
These verses are about gifts of Christ, for service as helpers and teachers, and overseers and defenders of the faith, and not about rule or governance as overlords, whereby making all members of the church accountable to their many offices of elevated rank in their ministry. If God meant for these verses in Ephesians to teach that it is through a church hierarchy that will help bring all into the unity of the faith and unto a perfect man and fullness of Christ, then the hierarchy is failing miserably, because the church is becoming more divided, confused and tossed to and fro each week and month and year, and further from becoming that perfect man in the body of Christ.
Did God give to His called and chosen saints a top-down government structure in the church, to submit to, without any sound Scripture support? Or has He given His church instructions on how God's governance, or rule, is to be in the church, in His Body, and it is to be through His Spirit, and Word, which is His authority, whereby each saint is accountable to God, His Word, and His commandments, through the power of His Holy Spirit?
One of the first principles in understanding God's governance in the church is to fully internalize in one's heart and mind that God is the Creator, and that man and his family are the creation. God in the beginning, appointed the man to be the head and to accept the responsibility to lead in service as the minister (servant), or priest, or shepherd over God's created family, Gen. 3: 16. Man was commanded and instructed to lead his family in love, by accepting the tree of life, which is the way of God's Spirit, God's commandments and God's governance in the family, and to reject the other tree, the ways of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which permits man to govern himself, or to be ruled and governed by other men, through a created, ruling hierarchy.
When men accept the rule of a hierarchy for their life and behavior, this is a denial of accepting God's power to lead and direct them in life, and is not accepting God's tree of life. But, when men and women do not accept God their creator as the force, power, and His leadership through His Spirit for their life, and to lead their church, and nation, then the only other choice of governance is through man's hierarchy exercised by all nations, which will end in death. The tree of life is the way of a love relationship between man, his wife and family and God. It is a Creator and creation relationship, based on love, where God is the one who man and all of his family, honors, greatly respects, worships, praises and are accountable to, in all their life and work. This is not a hierarchy, with offices of rank of authority, ruling with rigour and cruelty over each other, but of love, through God's governance, through His commandments and His Spirit.
What does the word office mean in the church and God's work?
The word "office" as it is used in Romans 12: 4-8, where God says, "all members have not the same office," is the Greek word (S-4234) referring to a function of work in the church, not an elevated office of power and authority over the church. The word, "office" in I Tim. 3: 1, "If a man desires the office of a bishop," is a different Greek word (S-1984) and here it means inspection to relieve, to visit, supervision, as a bishop, as an overseer.
An office of overseer in the church is first through being an example of service that is not for money, and second, to be an example of serving that's not for the reason of being exalted. An overseer is for the example of visiting and teaching God's Word, as a helper, not as an overlord or dictator, lording it over the church in a subjugating, conquering or intimidating way, which God calls following the doctrines of Balaam and Nicolaitans, Rev.2:14-16, and which He says He hates. God says repent of that system of teaching and doctrine. In I Tim. 3: 10, a different Greek word for office is used, (S-1247) and it means to be an attendant or servant, that waits upon others as a teacher, or host. None of these words of office means an office of position, or class of rank, over another in power and authority, to rule with rigour and subjugating power, as is carried out through a church hierarchy.
In I Cor. 12: 1, God is speaking here of gifts of the Spirit as different functions of work in the church, and again, and is in no way used as an offices of authority over the saints. Likewise, in Eph. 4: 12-24, God's Word speaks of the gifts of Christ and that He "gave some to be apostles, and some prophets: and some evangelists: and some pastors and teachers," and again not as an office of authority over the church. In these verses, Christ is not speaking of a church hierarchy, but as gifts of service to the church, to be helpers in their walk of life and helpers of their joy, and not as overlords over the church. Paul made it crystal clear when he said in II Cor.1:24 - "We do not have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith you stand."
How has the Church of God and its daughter churches received their man-created offices of power and authority? Has it been through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit? Or has it been through a self-generated power base that has built itself from collected money (tithes not commanded by God) from its membership, which gives them their power over the members. This money power is created through man's and his church's complex tithing system and "called for" special offerings, that are not commanded by God. God has commanded tithing, one 10%, not a 30%, and is in no way the way the Churches of God require and command of its membership. This money base has helped the ministry to build its organization and has give them the wherewithal to build and to establish its created church pyrammidal government over the church!
This church government, with its offices of rank, was created by the ministry establishing their own commandments called policies and by-laws, or as Christ calls it, "the commandments of men." This is used to bring all of its members unto a submission and a forced unity to their power structure. In addition to their commandment of a 30% tithing system, they build a foundation under their pyramidal, or hierarchical church government, by perverting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by teaching and commanding its members to believe and to accept that the Gospel of Christ is about church government, based on His government coming to this earth.
This as the focused gospel, cannot be found anywhere in Christ's teaching and is a perverting of the Gospel! They, through this church government, rule their members with rigour and cruelty, with the threat of disfellowship, and with the threat that the members will lose their salvation if they begin to study Scripture, think for themselves, and believe anything else contrary to their teaching system. This government is carried out in order to discipline the members to keep them in line with their church's false teachings and false, restored truths. These are the things that has given the Churches of God its offices of power and authority. This church government of authority is not of Jesus Christ, and the power of His Holy Spirit, but is from Satan, men being His ministers and as all part of eating from the knowledge of tree of good and evil!
In the beginning of all God's creation on the earth, God presented before created man two ways of governance, and that was either God's Governance, or man's self-governance represented by the two trees. Adam and Eve knew the penalty or judgment for choosing the way of man's self-governance. God told them if they chose to use their own knowledge of determining good and evil as the god of their own life, that they would die! This is found in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Genesis.
The way of God's governance was for man to accept and choose to eat from God's "tree of life," with God, His commandments, and His power of His Spirit, as man's governing leader. The other choice set before man was man's self-governance, and was represented by man accepting the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil," whereas man, as the god of his own life, could choose what laws he, his wife, and family would live by, to govern their lives. This way of man's self-governance, that all nations, all churches, and all men and women have chosen to accept (unless there has been repentance) is living by the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their choice is guided by the spirit and influence of Satan, and is the system that the god of this world, Satan, seduces and inspires all men and women to follow, and yes, even the Churches of God, its ministry and its membership!
God's command of rule, or governance for man, and governance as a nation or church, is to accept His rule, based on His 10 commandments, statutes, and judgments and the love that His commandments, when obeyed, produce in all of man's work and associations. When man does not follow and submit to God's way of rule, or governance, then he submits himself to the other tree, or way of life, the way of self-rule, or self-governance, with man supplying his own set of rules, policies, by-laws or commandments, that varies from one family to another, from one nation to another, and from one church to another. This way of governance becomes a hierarchical rule, and a governance under a one man dictator, or governance of a top-down authority, under groups of men of rank and order.
Men from the beginning, have become totally blinded to the only way that man, his family, God's Church, and his nation can be righteously governed, to produce the fruit of unity and of love, and peace, and that is through accepting God, His commandments, and the power of the leadership of His Holy Spirit. The is the reason God the Father sent Christ to the earth, to provide the good news of how man, if he would repent of following the way of sin, the way of his own choosing, could be saved from the curse of death, of following 'the knowledge of the tree of good and evil." Satan's way of man's self-governance in one's life must be rejected, and then one must start his life new of accepting and following God's "tree of life." Every church member must come to see and understand that God's governance through His "Tree of life"is the only way he desires to be governed, and that is through God, His commandments, and His Spirit. Christ says in Rev. 22:14 - Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.?
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