Who Benefits (the unbiblical structure of the establishment church)
The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; Lk22:25-26
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. Mat20:25-26
Who's the one that benefits in present day 'Ministry? NOT those supposedly 'ministered too, although they imagine that some 'spiritual advantage is imparted because their sensibilities are pacified, NO the real benefactors are those who 'exercise their authority over the flock. In doing so they gain notoriety, adoration and financial support, but this is not how the 'ministry was intended to proceed under the teachings of Christ. First of all EVERYONE involved is to have a part and portion in the ministry and this is not necessarily speaking of the dispensing of 'gifts. Rather it is dispelling the 'notion of a division between 'Clergy and Laity', as though one is 'Greater or above the other in 'authority over the flock. Paul said: 'For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, 2Cor10:8
Surely the Apostles had 'authority given
them by the Lord, BUT never once did they exercise that authority
in a 'destructive or self-gratification manner over the people. They did not
preach themselves, nor did they handle the Word of God deceitfully to promote
any other System of Doctrine other than Christ Crucified and Sin subdued.
2Cor4:5, 1Cor2:1. Nor did they exercise their Apostolic authority for personal
profit! Paul said they had every right to live from the gospel, 1Cor9:14, but
Preached it FREE of charge, 1Cor9:18, so not to burden anyone with
his needs. Rather he 'worked with his hands and paid his own
expenses, as he told others to do, 1Thes4:11, Acts18:3. There were no temples or
church type buildings constructed in their honor or personal libraries of
'copy-written material sold on the open market for profit. Other than an
occasional collection taken for the relief of the Widows and Orphans, 2Cor9:1-5,
10-13, you NEVER see them 'Passing the plate or taking 'love
offerings for traveling evangelists, visiting dignitaries or singing groups!
In fact a first century document circulated among the early assemblies, called
the Didache, strictly forbid anyone coming in among them, going
from house to house, lingering for extended periods of time, living off the
charity of the Saints. It was always expected that everyone do their part in the
work of ministry and if they were able, to provide for the needs of others.
1Tim5:8, 1Thes4:11. Paul said, 'If anyone will not work, neither shall he
eat!' 2Thes3:10. Having food and raiment, they were content to preach
the Gospel against all odds and under any conditions, good or bad. 1Tim6:8. They
were 'Shepherds perfecting the flock for the WORK of
Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, so they would all come to the
unity of the faith and the Knowledge (precise and correct) of the Son of God to
the PERFECT man! The Body, joined and knit together, is supplied
with all spiritual needs, is where EVERY part does its SHARE
to bring about Growth and edification for all. Eph4:12-16.
They were not called 'Pastor, Reverend Father, most holy Bishop or Pope, nor do we see any of them parading around the country side in their golden chariots, wearing silk and finery, boasting lavish homes and looking forward to a comfortable retirement. Their legacy stands testifying in labors and stripes, imprisonments and tribulations, sleeplessness and fasting! In Purity and sincere love, by the Word of Truth and the Power of God! Branded as evil doers and deceivers, yet TRUE! 'Unknown, but well-known, in dying but yet living on. 2Cor6:4-10.
Certainly many things have changed since ancient times, BUT their example stands! They did not treat or suppose their Apostleship was some kind of 'Office to Lord over the people. Although they were commissioned and sent by the Lord Himself they never used their authority to establish a governing Board, ruling Staff or 'paid group of clergy appointed to calls the shots. Yes there is a place for teachers, preachers, evangelists, elders and deacons, BUT these words in the Bible are all synonymous with SERVICE! The 'Pastor is not an 'Office, pastor is the word for Shepherd, as Christ told Peter in John21:15-17, when Peter reaffirmed his love, Jesus said, 'Feed my Sheep', not lord over them as a man in high office with some kind of Episcopal authority. The point is that any 'Gift' you may have is not an 'OFFICE, nor was it meant to be anything else but a means to edify the body and bring others to a Knowledge of the Truth. ONE person didn't do all the preaching / teaching, there was no 'Board of Directors made up of so-called 'Elders who garner the most influence and control all the funds. Nobody in early times used their 'GIFTS to promote anything but the truth and If they did the assemblies would expose them as false teachers. Paid ministers (Pastors) living lavishly off the Gospel today are a curse to the people who have been fully merchandised by them. Instead of 'Imitate me as I imitate the Lord', as Paul said, it's you can have it all, the Lord will abundantly bless you with riches and success IF you give generously to support the Church! But the problem is 'it's NOT the Church and certainly NOT the one that turned the world upside-down for Christ! From top to bottom its flawed in substance and in structure, and you need to GET out from under it. I know that most of you THINK your Church is 'The Church, but examine it against the facts. Can such things as we see in your multi-million dollar Church Country Clubs be justified in light of Scripture? The present sordid condition of multitudes of professed Christians in these Churches is evidence enough to tear them down and begin again and 'Remember from where they have fallen, Repent and DO their First Works, because the Lampstand is long gone and they are in Great Darkness!' Rev2:5, Matt6:23.
Look again to the early Saints and the
Warnings they issued to the assemblies of what was to come:
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. Acts20:28-31
'Savage Wolves, false teachers, men speaking 'perverse things and 'drawing away disciple after themselves! (the beginnings of establishing Episcopal authority over the flock) This was the Continual Warning from the Apostles who knew that after their 'departure (demise) those who were now 'creeping around, spreading their heresies would come to the surface and make their play for POWER! Jude, who warned that these type of men would turn the Grace of God into a license for immorality, also said: 'But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
'Sensual' men, not having the Spirit, he said, these are men who act in accordance with their base desires (lusts) as James said of the 'Wisdom of this earth that is 'devilish and self-seeking. They desire dominance and recognition. There is always an abundance of these men waiting in the wings for the right moment to pounce on the simple minded flock who love the smooth words and flattering speech of their high sounding rhetoric. These type of wolves have probably never been more prevalent than what is in our midst today with the advent of the internet. Yet a brief look into the origins of this movement will reveal that even without the means of world-wide communications such individuals were able to exert a great deal of influence over the early assemblies that eventually lead to full dominance over the 'laity in 3-4 Century Rome, when the un-holy trinity (Constantine, Ambrose, Augustine) brought 'Christianity into the main-stream and blended it into the pagan culture of their day. But the roots of this movement began toward the end of the first Century with the demise of Apostles leaving a 'power vacuum to fill. Although many 'disciples of the Apostles were still in circulation, not every assembly had full access to all the Epistles of Paul, Peter, John, (or the Gospels) as a result they were subject to the opinions of certain men who had been converted out of pagan philosophies and believed that the establishment of 'Offices would insure the continuation of sound teaching in the assemblies. In their minds, a Structure of leadership had to be maintained and the 'Office of 'Bishop, episkopos, (transliterated: Episcopal) was the answer. However even the best of intentions can often times lead to disaster and this is personified in what happened next.
Ignatius of Antioch (35-107) a martyr, was the first early disciple we can find who promoted this Structure as a valid method of keeping order in the assemblies. We can trace the origin of what was to become the modern 'Pastor/Father and the concept of church hierarchy to his teachings. (perhaps also originally linked to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans mentioned in Rev2:15) It was reported by Theodoret of Cyrrhus that the apostle Peter himself appointed Ignatius to his Episcopal (Bishop) seat at Antioch. Ignatius called himself Theophorus (God Bearer) He stressed the value of the Eucharist, calling it a 'medicine of immortality. (Ignatius to the Ephesians 20:2). He is also responsible for the first known use of the Greek word katholikos (Catholic, meaning universal, according to the whole) Here is what he wrote to the Churches (assemblies) concerning the 'Office of Bishop: (episkopos,)
Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid. — Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8, J.R. Willis translation. Although he lacked the authority at the time to enforce these things, as you can see it did lay the ground work for what occurred in Rome under Constantine, Ambrose and Augustine and essentially paved the way for an establishment Church System to exist throughout the remainder of history to now.
Protestant type evangelical Churches use the Word, 'Pastor, to denote
their head office, not Bishop. (although their are some exceptions) The use of
this word in Eph4:11, (in the KJV Bible) is Greek for 'Shepherds,
Poimen, plural, elsewhere in the NT it is translated in such
manner, ONLY in the Eph4 passage is it translated 'Pastor, with
the notion of 'ONE person serving over the flock. But again, this was
unknown to the early assemblies. As Paul eluded in his Acts20 address, the 'overseers
(plural) were to 'Shepherd the flock and protect them from the type of
men who would come in to establish authority over them. The word 'Overseers,
episkopos, translated Bishop in 1Tim3:2, Ti1:7, KJV, is
derived from the Greek expressions for 'Watchman, elder, observer.
Elder, presbyteros, is the root of our Word:
simply means: 'Advanced in life, a senior, the term is used interchangeably in
the KJV NT with Bishop, elders and presbyters. The 'office of a Bishop'
translated in 1Tim3:1, the word 'office was added to the text to denote
some ruling authority, it does not appear in the Greek. As in Heb13:17,
'Submit or obey those who 'rule over you', sounds authoritative in
translation, but specifically means those who 'lead you', NOT Rule
over you, no one person rules over another in the Ekklesia, Christ
is the Head! Eph1:22. But the Catholic establishment and the Protestant System
both use these terms to maintain their control over the Church.
The common thread between these 'terms is for the Purpose of Service, not Ruling over anyone, but taking care of their spiritual well-being and 'Sharing with them in the work of Ministry as equals. Since God is no respecter of Persons (Rom2:11, Col3:5) neither shall His assembles be divided between 'clergy and laity'. This concept, as mentioned above, was already on the rise among the early Saints in such writings of Tertullian of Carthage, the first one to use the term 'clergy as a separate class of Christians. Clement of Alexandria follow him in the 2nd Century and then Origin. But to their credit we must add that they NEVER went to extremes of Ignatius in elevating the 'Clergy over the laity and saw all as equals in the work of Ministry. It did however set the stage for what was to soon take place in the emergence of an ecclesiastical Order under Roman dominance in the 4th Century, that essentially shut up the Kingdom of God against men and robbed them of free access to the Scriptures by translating them into Latin and eventually outlawing the original Greek.
Ignatius' claim to have been commissioned by the Apostle Peter stands on shaky ground. Nothing in the teachings or writings of Peter can support such notions as: "Your bishop presides in the place of God, Ignatius wrote to the Magnesians, "and your presbyters in the place of the apostles, along with your deacons." (Mag. 46:1). To the Ephesians he wrote: "It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself" (Eph. 6:1; cp. Sm. 9:1) AND his outrageous assertion that the 'Eucharist is actually the 'flesh or our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and anyone who denies it will perish in perdition, is further proof he could have NEVER been taught of the Apostle Peter. Concerning the Eucharist, Ignatius wrote in his letter to the Smyrnaeans:
Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God ... They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes. — Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 (sounds more like a Pope than a disciple doesn't it)
Yet anyone with proper discernment can see where this eventually leads. But can they also see how it has corrupted the ENTIRE professing Christian System, Catholic and Protestant alike. The language of obedience to the bishop (flesh-mediator) and the presbyters (agents of the flesh-mediators) is notably pronounced in these letters, from early Second Century. Regardless what motivated men like Ignatius to insist on this rigid power structure, the entire concept is 'unbiblical in nature and leads to centralized political hierarchy presiding over the Church. The BEST method to protect the assemblies from heresy and internal strife is to allow FULL access to the Word of God and have things done 'decently in order', as Paul warned in 1Cor11:3-34, reminding them that the 'Head of every man is Christ. Certainly 'Structure is required (we can't have chaos with everyone wanting to be boss) but NOT in the method Ignatius prescribed. Christ does not what 'mighty men of renown' ruling over His Church, such was His condemnation of the Nicolaitans, Rev2:6, 15, who were of this sort. This inevitably brought about the 'Creeds, Catechism of the RCC and the West Minister Confession of Protestantism. (which is Catholic / Luther lite) Neither Peter or Paul ever exhorted anyone to 'OBEY the Bishop, especially from a top down pyramid scheme based on 'Titles and 'Offices. 'Call no man Father upon the earth, for ONE is your Father which is in heaven!' Mat23:9, 'There is ONE mediator between man and God, the Man Christ Jesus!' 1Tim2:5 No Priest, Bishop, Elder or Presbyter stands between God and man, Neither a 'Pastor or Deacon (deakoneo, Servant) has final authority over your spiritual well-being. These are all made-up Offices, created by taking Scripture out of Context or CLEARLY re-interpreting the original meanings to coincide with the Church establishment. Each of these 'offices are disposable figureheads, subject to the whims of the Board of Directors, administrators (money changers!) who work behind the scenes for the sole purpose of 'growing the business (church) and securing order in the ranks. Even the Pope himself is subject to the 'unseen controlling powers of the Vatican. (Just like your local Pastors)
The following quotes of Ignatius should raise some eyebrows if you're awake enough to recognize the destructiveness of this type of mind-set creeping into the assemblies as early as 102-110 AD.
In his letter to the Smyrnans he wrote:
Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid. — Letter to the Smyrnans 8, J.R. Willis translation. All of you follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father. No one is to do any church business without the bishop Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be. You yourselves must never act independently of your bishop and clergy. You should look on your bishop as a type of the Father,. Whatever he approves, that is pleasing to God"
DOES any of this sound familiar to those of us who have escaped from the System of Error? We are often called renegades, heretics, the trouble makers. The 'Pastor warned as we departed that we would 'soon fall away from the faith without the 'Church, that we must continue to 'Serve or die, (spiritually) alone we were destine for perdition. Although we are not hunted down and subject to torture for abandoning the System, we are reported as cultish, self-righteous heretics and generally hatful people. Those of us who act 'independently of the establishment System are labeled 'false teachers and divisive YET we are the ones following the Apostles directive to WARN the people they are sitting under a System of error and their eternal souls are at stake! In ancient times this internal corruption lead to the onset of the Constantine/Ambrose/Augustine era of the Church that laid the entire ground work for the RCC and the creation of a new Caste of 'Christians never before seen. At the head of the church stood the Bishop. Under him was the Presbyters, under them stood the Deacons, and below all of them crawled the poor, miserable 'laymen who were disallowed the scriptures and once again, placed under a priest to acquire knowledge, just as it was in the OT law of Moses. Once Bishop Rule became the accepted form of church government throughout the Roman Empire after the Council of Nicaea 325AD, it was their sole duty to delegate the responsibility of Baptisms, the Lord's Supper and other Sacraments to their 'agents (Presbyters, Priests) broadening their phylacteries, and enlarging the borders of their religious garments, laying heavy burdens too grievous to be sustained on the backs of the suffering congregations, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers, while they receive greetings in the market places of notoriety and to be called of men, Rabbi/ Father/Pastor etc, Matt23:4-7 By the end of the 4th century the clergy caste was now cemented together with slime for mortar, becoming what we of today as our 'Local Churches.
Need we speak of the so-called Reformation, in which the Catholic Monarchies of Europe were challenged. When the KJV Version (so revered today) was ordered to be translated in 1609 by King James VI, the 'renown churchmen who sit on the committee were strictly admonished to 'maintain the present ecclesiastic authority of the Church of England. You can be assured that the word 'Church (Greek, ekklesia, called out ones) was maintained and the single use of the 'Pastor, Eph4:11, in place of 'Shepherds was ordered as well. As mentioned, the term 'office', of a Bishop, 1Tim3:2, Ti1:7, was added to the text, the term is interchangeable with 'Elder, and is not an Office! But these were means by which the 'Church could maintain its Structure under the authority of Kings. John Wesley himself, who despised Catholicism, was a stern adherent to Official 'Ordination before a minister / pastor / preacher could perform Baptisms, Communion, Marriages, ect. He severely rebuked the 'Itinerant preachers who evangelized in America in the 1700's for performing these 'rites without the 'benefit of Ordination. And such is the nature of ALL Denominations to this day. (not just the Catholics) Pastors, Bishops, superintendents, etc MUST be carefully selected by a presiding board and put through the 'required paces to ensure they fall in line with the establishment System. These are academic graduates schooled in theology and rhetoric who rise to the highest levels of education and crave the best appointments with the most favorable remuneration. All directly in line with the prevailing principle of mankind in politics, science, medicine and the highest institutions of learning. The 'Beast of Pride, its basis Humanism standing on the foundation of the 'Respect of Persons! Paul said the evidence of his ministry were 'stripes, imprisonments, tumults, labors, sleeplessness and fasting' he was not 'well-known but 'unknown (2Cor6:3-9) he didn't have a fat retirement fund waiting for him in his latter years or a 'Charitable (tax exempt) Foundation to stash away all the proceeds from his books, lecture tours and paid appearances, while he traveled in luxury as 'Trustee of the funds. The heretics today sell Millions of books and DVD series, are paid handsomely for showing up at certain events and boast large incomes from mega Churches who support them. Their loyalties lay in maintaining the Status quo within their Systems, NOT warning anyone how corrupt it is. They put forth an appearance of godly men and women, but money and prestige is what drives them. A 501 Charitable foundation can give as little as 2% of its proceeds, yearly, in donations and even delay that up to a year, and still maintain its tax exempt status as valid. WHY do you think all the Billionaires have them ... they appear to the world as wonderful Philanthropists while they live like Kings on tax exempt foundations! HOW are these Celebrity Preachers running around racking in the bucks any different? They LOVE the present Structure of the Church System and wouldn't have it any other way, that's why they are the REAL Benefactors in this Mess, 'Deceived and deceiving others' as Paul said, Renown in their present form, but Renounced in the heavens:
Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. Jer12:10
Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. Jer23:1-2
For the shepherds have become dull-hearted, And have not sought the Lord; Therefore they shall not prosper, And all their flocks shall be scattered. Jer10:21
therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them. Ezk34:9-10
Does all this mean we dare not even assemble with other Saints in the Name of the Lord? Certainly not, but it does mean you need to exercise extreme caution against the many 'ONE man / woman Ministries out there today. We know the establishment 'Church is a spiritual death trap, but that doesn't mean that everyone who comes out of it is a genuine teacher of the Word, Remember: 'many false prophets have gone out into the world!' There are genuine Shepherds, elders, people you can trust to administer spiritual advice and join with in edification. But these are 'gifts, not 'Offices, dispensed for the Purpose of building up the Saints in their most holy faith, not bringing them into bondage to another system of error. Each one must DO their Part in the work of Ministry with humility as their watchword and reverence to Christ in all ways. NO vision, prophecy, dream or some miraculous sign can take precedence over the WORD (Logos, living Christ!) as no self-appointed Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist can usurp authority over your spiritual well-being. We have all that is required to KEEP us in the Present Truth, the 'faith that was once delivered to the Saints, so we may be equipped (Perfected) for our work of Ministry, to Run the race with endurance, Stand the test of time and be found Worthy to enter His Kingdom in the end.
By Mike D