PART 6 ABUSE OF TRUST
CHAPTER 7ADDITIONAL TOPICS FROM THE TESTED LEADERSHIP MODEL, PART IIWe will look at two more topics from the tested leadership model and then we will summarize, and the next is one that had a significant impact on a church in which I participated and attended Bible college in the early 80’s. I hope this study has been as much as an eye opener to you as it has been to me.
TOPIC: SHOULD THE LEADERSHIP ENCOURAGE THE ASSEMBLY OF BELIEVERS TO GIVE FINANCIALLY TO THE CHURCH IN THE FORM OF LANDS OR HOUSES?
The Mandatory Leadership Model
And laid them down at the apostles' feet:Suggested Reading: Acts 4:1-37
The Jewish believers were being persecuted both by their fellow Jews who were unsaved and the Roman government. The church supplied the needs of one another by means of the sale of lands or houses that some of them owned. The proceeds were given to the apostles, who distributed the funds according to the needs of the believers.
The Mandatory Leadership Model CharacteristicThe leadership of the church can request financial support from the assembly of believers, whether it is in the form of money, land, houses, etc. The assembly is obligated to give whether they are aware of the reason for the request or not. If a believer chooses not to give, they are considered not to be of one heart and one soul with the ministry. (Acts 4:34-35)
The Tested Leadership Model
It is true that the Jewish believers at Jerusalem helped to provide for one another financially by selling chosen possessions. However, there is no indication that the apostles said that they should sell their houses or lands and give it to the church.
While it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?Suggested Reading: Acts 5:1-11
There was a certain man named Ananias, along with his wife Sapphira, who evidently pledged to sell a piece of land and give all of the proceeds to the church in order to help their fellow believers. After the sale was completed they only brought part of what they had promised.
2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. The apostle Peter confronted Ananias and told him that when the land had been in his possession he was free to do with it as he pleased. He was under no obligation to give any or all of the proceeds of the sale to the church in order to provide financial assistance for those fellow believers who were in desperate financial constraints due to persecution. However, once he declared that the entire amount of the sale price of the land would be given, he was under obligation to give what he had promised. 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
Each believer was given a choice to give whatever amount they wanted as well as to decide how the funds given would be obtained (e.g. from savings; from the selling of houses; lands; etc.).Please go to 1 Corinthians 9.Every man according as he has purposed in his heart, so let him give:
Suggested Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-24, 9:1-15Apparently, there was need to assist the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. The churches of Macedonia had already provided financial support. The Corinthian church had made promise to do so, but as yet had not followed through. Paul was reminding them of their intention and letting them know that a delegation would be sent to collect whatever amount had been appropriated. Furthermore, he reminded them of what their motivation should be in this opportunity, which was as one purposed (the consent of free choice) in their heart (right lobe, where bible doctrine is metabolized in the filling of the Holy Spirit). Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;… (2 Corinthians 9:7a)
He further stressed the idea that giving of one’s finances should neither be done grudgingly (with regret - upon doing something that someone does not want to do; with anger) nor by necessity (imposed by duty; coercion; being forced either by inner moral conviction or by outer pressure from other people28).
…so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:… (2 Corinthians 9:7b)
What God desires in giving is that when you give, give cheerfully. The word cheerfully does not mean to give based on feelings, affordability, or on the fact that one is having a good day. To give cheerfully means joyful willingness. We choose to give joyfully, because we are joyful (one of the spiritual qualities of the Holy Spirit operating in and through us). The motivation of the heart in giving is God centered and not self-centered. When our eyes are on Him, then and only then are we able to look at whatever is set before us through spiritual lenses.
…for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7c)
One more thought regarding the giving of finances—I don’t believe that those in leadership should ask the assembly to sell their houses, lands, etc. in order to provide for a financial need. Instead, they can let them know about the need and even the amount necessary for the expense. However, the believers who own property should not be singled out. Believers should have the right to give by the consent of their free choice and in the manner that they choose without pressure.
The following characteristic or perspective of giving financially according to the tested leadership model follows.
The Tested Leadership Model CharacteristicLeadership should never coerce giving financially, for whatever reason. In my opinion, the believers should not be asked to sell their property (i.e. land, houses, etc.) in order to meet a financial need. Believers should give as they choose in their heart where doctrine resides in the filling (spiritual qualities) of the Holy Spirit operating within, and the amount or form of their gift is between them and God. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
After graduating from Bible College I went to work for an affiliate branch ministry, initially being hired to assist in the operation of its Christian Day School. As time went on, I took over the responsibility as Principal for one year. Because there wasn’t enough money coming in from tuition to meet the financial obligations of the school, a joint partnership emerged with another church in the area, which agreed to relocate the school to one of their buildings, thus taking over all responsibility from staffing to financing.
During that time, the Bible college I had graduated from was in the midst of a tumultuous court case. It was alleged that a particular church member had been coerced out of about 6 million dollars by undue influence of the President of the Bible college. The court proceedings were being held in the city where I lived, and though I was unable to attend any of the trial, I was quite surprised at such an allegation. However, I do remember some financial rumblings when I was attending Bible college. Apparently there was at least one family who were living on campus as a result of giving to the Bible college monies they had received from the selling of their home. Seemingly, there were agreements made that in exchange for the financial contribution this family would be able to live rent-free on the campus for life. For whatever reasons, they decided they no longer wanted to live on campus and demanded their money back. From my understanding, no money was returned to them, which was cause for much vocal dissatisfaction by the family until the time when they eventually moved away.
If the outcome of the trial was such that the allegation of the church member was considered true, then in order to make restitution it’s probable that the entire campus would need to be liquidated, which included a chapel, girls’ and boys’ dorms, a cafeteria, a softball field, a facility used for live radio, and various buildings that were for staff housing. Finally, a verdict was rendered, and undue influence was found to have caused the member to give a financial gift of almost 6 million dollars. As intimated, the campus closed down, with any monies from its sale to be used to pay back the amount due to the victim, and the church eventually relocated to another state, changed its name, and has continued to this day as a worldwide ministry.
After the Christian day school was relocated to the facility of another church, I was hired to help train new teachers who would assist in the day-to-day operation of implementing the curriculum. I worked at this location for one year and then left because I secured a teaching position in a public school in another part of the state.
As the years went by, a door was opened for me to oversee a Christian Fellowship that initially met twice a week. I had my hands full preparing the music and messages for the gatherings, collecting offerings, advertising, etc. After a period of about four years one of the church members, who had been encouraged to be the main speaker on various occasions, accused me of taking money from the offerings for my own personal benefit. During this time I had undertaken the task of writing and publishing my first book, and the accusation was that I took money from the offerings in order to pay for the publication. I can’t tell you how hurt I was. Prior to this accusation, I made it a practice at the beginning of each month to hand out a financial statement for the previous month that included income, expenses, and an updated balance. I thought I had done a pretty good job, not only keeping records but also of disclosing to the assembly the financial picture, so this took me by surprise. It would have been one thing if this person had requested a copy of the financial records for the past year with receipts just so that a second set of records could be kept secure in case something happened to the original set, but instead they made the accusation.
I decided to make copies of all of the records with receipts since inception of the fellowship and brought the copies of the most recent year’s records with receipts, and offered to give them to this person so that they could go through them for themselves. I also let them know that I had copies of the other three years if they also wanted to see them. They chose not to take any of the copies, but asked me a second time if I’d taken money from the treasury to pay for the publishing of the book. When I replied that I had not, they said they were satisfied with the answer. Sometime later, this person left the assembly and the few people that remained were not consistent in attending the fellowship gatherings. I began praying to God for direction as to whether the fellowship should continue. Within about two weeks I received confirmation by means of the prompting of the Spirit that it shouldn’t continue and so it was disbanded.
I said all this because the financial giving from an assembly is not to be taken lightly. Those in leadership have to be very careful as to the words they use in trying to facilitate the giving. There is also the need to not only keep exemplary records, but also to have a system in place that ensures that all of the monies given are accounted for. You can never please everyone in the assembly. There will always be those who might think in an adverse manner about something that is going on. And, by the way, there should be nothing wrong with this. Those in leadership should be open to discuss these concerns and make sure they are not providing the fodder, which provokes adverse reactions from the members of the assembly.
We have one more topic to examine.
TOPIC: SHOULD THE ASSEMBLY FOLLOW THE LEADERSHIP OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH UNEQUIVOCALLY, AS THE JEWS FOLLOWED MOSES UNEQUIVOCALLY?
Please go to 1 Corinthians 10.
And were all baptized unto Moses: Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
The Jews were baptized (under obligation; devoted) to Moses in the experiences of the Exodus such as when they passed through the Red Sea as it rose in walls on each side providing safe passage from the ensuing Egyptians; and when they were under the cloud, the "Shekinah" - the visible symbol of the divine presence and protection that attended them out of Egypt which went before them by day as a cloud to guide them, and by night as a pillar of fire to give them light29.
The Mandatory Leadership Model CharacteristicAs the Jews were baptized (under obligation; devoted) to Moses, so should the New Testament saints be baptized (under obligation; devoted) to those in leadership; the idea being that Moses is a type of the New Testament leader. They should follow leaders unequivocally and without reservation for leading and guidance in all areas of life. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)
Is Moses a type of the New Testament leader? If so, the believer in the Church Age should believe and obey everything that the leader says. The only way to determine whether or not this is so is to search out the scriptures.
In the New Testament church, God has given some believers office or leadership gifts, but what are the names of these office gifts and what is their purpose? We’re on our way to the book of Ephesians.
And He gave some:Suggested Reading: Ephesians 4:11-16
The names of these office gifts are apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teacher. Collectively the office gifts are provided for the perfecting (mending, repair, or correcting all that is deficient) of the saints, the work of the ministry (the work of Christian service), and the edifying (to cause to grow strong) of the Body of Christ so that every member might become mature or fully-grown.
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Depending on which church you attend, the ideas of correcting all that is deficient in the saints, what constitutes Christian service, and what causes a Christian to grow strong are probably different. This shouldn’t dissuade us. There will always be differences of opinion concerning this or that. But the question remains, should the New Testament saint follow the leadership unequivocally, as the Israelites followed Moses unequivocally?
Hopefully, the scriptures that are looked at under the tested leadership model will help us to ascertain this. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the book of 1 Corinthians.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things: Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Paul was conveying to the Corinthian believers that when he came before them declaring the testimony (mystery; secret truth) of God, this was not done with excellency of speech and wisdom (persuasive doctrines of human wisdom (of human philosophy—a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs30), but by the Spirit and power (Spiritual power). For those who love Him (Christ), the things that God has prepared for them will be revealed to them by means of the Holy Spirit, who illuminates (helps us to understand) us in the things (the blessings of salvation; the blessings of redemption—the pardon of sin, justification, sanctification, the divine favor and protection, and the hope of eternal life31) that God has graciously bestowed on us.
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
These things Paul spoke about were not gleaned from human wisdom, but were the words of the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit taught Paul through revelation and illumination, so Paul taught the believers. The truth of God is found in the Word of God, and it is very important to note that these spiritual truths are given in specific words32. The things of the Spirit can only be known (understood) by spiritual discernment ((it is only with the help of the Holy Spirit are we able to examine and investigate the things of the Spirit).
14 …neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual (one who is under the influence of the Spirit; to whom divine insight is imparted33) discerns and judges all things spiritual.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
As those in leadership claim to be declaring God’s heart by the leading and guiding of the Spirit, so too can there be confirmation as to whether these truths are indeed from God’s heart by the Spirit residing in those who are listening, providing them with divine insight. Let’s proceed to 1 John.
But as the same anointing teacheth you of all things:1 John 2:27
The anointing, the person of the Holy Spirit, which you have received of Christ, abides (has taken up permanent residency) in you. While it is true that God has given some in the church an office gift of teaching, the same anointing (the person of the Holy Spirit) will teach (endue us with judgment and discernment; the corrector and approver of doctrine; he alone can be a witness to himself, so as to convince our hearts that what our ears receive has come from him34) us so that we will be able to recognize error.
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
The office gifts, when exercised in the sense of teaching or preaching, do not take precedent over the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit in each believer. If what they are conveying is of the Spirit, then those who are listening under the influence of the Spirit will confirm this, so let’s look at some scriptures that indicate what the responsibility is of those who are hearing a message from leadership.
Searched the scriptures daily:Suggested Reading: Acts 17:1-14
In this instance, Paul and Silas had left Thessalonica and arrived in the city of Berea. They entered the synagogue and preached the gospel. They found that the Bereans were willing to listen and examine how the promises and types of the Old Testament corresponded with the alleged fulfillment in the person, works, and sufferings of Jesus Christ. They made a careful and exact research against the scriptures in order to see if what Paul had said agreed with what the Scriptures said35.In like manner, each believer should make a careful and exact research against the scriptures while under the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit concerning the teachings of those in leadership.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
This careful and exact research of all teaching should be examined exegetically (hermeneutically), which refers to scriptural interpretation based on an analysis of the grammatical features and historical background. Continuing this study, the next question that comes to mind is, “What should those in leadership convey to the assembly in regard to following their direction? Are they to be followed exclusively, as the assembly follows Christ?1 Peter will shed some light on this question.
Neither as being lords over God's heritage:Suggested Reading: 1 Peter 5:1-3
The apostle Peter was addressing the elders (pastors) of the churches that were made up of Christian Jews who lived in foreign countries and were strangers to their native land. In his address, he contrasted those qualities of leadership that are self-centered with those that are God centered, teaching that an elder is to care for the church over which they are called to preside, as a shepherd cares for his flock. A shepherd would protect his sheep from thieves and marauders; go before the flock and search out the land for grazing making sure that there was nothing there to harm the flock (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, snakes, pits, etc.); seek out a wayward sheep and give it personal attention; discipline a sheep that was too rebellious; carry a sheep if it got injured; and at the close of each day would examine each sheep and anoint their bruises with healing oil and remove briars from their wool36. Their care for the spiritual well-being of the flock should not be based on obligation or reluctance, but out of one’s own initiative. The motivation of their ministerial service should be a willingness to serve because of a readiness and eagerness within the heart rather than for financial gain.
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;
An elder should not be a lord (exercising unreasonable use of power; overbearing, such as a magistrate or civil ruler, who constantly shouts orders; this includes the idea of domineering as in the rule of a strong person over one who is weak37) over God’s heritage (to those who are assigned for supervision, care, and oversight38), but their life should be lived in such a way, as to be an example (of mature Christian character; to imitate the character of Christ; to live in such a way as to be emulated by others) to the flock.
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
Can a pastor or leader preach the gospel, believe in worldwide evangelism, teach the assembly about whom they have been made to be anew in Christ, and be a lord over God’s heritage? Unfortunately, yes, probably in large part because of a dichotomy between all that God is doing in the assembly and all that God is not allowed to do.
What do I mean? There could be one main issue that contributes to the overbearing or domineering character of the pastor, this being that they operate under the mandatory leadership model at times, while at other times give the appearance of operating under the tested leadership model as it suits them. The assembly’s view of the leadership as it operates under the mandatory leadership model is that it is all right to condone sin as long as it promotes the kingdom of God. However, the assembly is allowed to operate under the tested leadership model as long as it remains in subjection to the mandatory leadership model of the pastor when necessary. This is the final characteristic or perspective that has been formulated from the tested leadership model.
The Tested Leadership Model CharacteristicAs those in leadership claim to be declaring God’s heart by the leading and guiding of the Spirit, so too can there be confirmation as to whether these truths are indeed from God’s heart by the Spirit residing in those who are listening as He provides divine insight. (1 Corinthians 2:1-16) And, while it is true that God has given some in the church an office gift of teaching, the same anointing (the person of the Holy Spirit) will teach (endue us with judgment and discernment; the corrector and approver of doctrine; he alone can be a witness to himself, so as to convince our hearts that what our ears receive has come from him39) each member of the assembly so that they will be able to recognize error. (1 John 2:27) Each believer should make a careful and exact research against the scriptures while under the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit concerning the teaching of those in leadership. This research should be examined exegetically (hermeneutically), which refers to scriptural interpretation based on an analysis of the grammatical features and historical background. (Acts 17:1-14)
An elder should not be a lord (exercises unreasonable use of power; overbearing, such as a magistrate or civil ruler, who constantly shouts orders; this includes the idea of domineering as in the rule of a strong person over one who is weak) over God’s heritage (to those who are assigned for supervision, care, and oversight40), but their life should be lived in such a way, as to be an example (of mature Christian character; to imitate the character of Christ; to live in such a way as to be emulated by others) to the flock. One main issue that might contribute to the overbearing or domineering character of the pastor is that they operate under the mandatory leadership model at times, while allowing the assembly to operate under the tested leadership model as long as it remains in subjection to the mandatory leadership model of the pastor when necessary. (1 Peter 5:1-3)
Some will argue that there will always be issues in churches with leadership abuses. I’m sure that this is true but the question is; is there one leadership model that lends itself to abuse? Also, is there one leadership model that addresses leadership abuse in an exegetical (hermeneutical) way? In the beginning of this study a question was asked regarding whether or not those who are in the leadership positions in the church are above reproach in their teachings and conduct, and in the next chapter I will present some articles on the abuse of trust by some church leaders. Following this, I will provide a brief contrast summary of the characteristics or perspectives that were derived from the two leadership models that we have examined, after which you will be asked an interesting question.
Endnotes28UBS.29Barnes.30Dictionary.31Barnes.32The Bible Exposition Commentary.33Vincent’s New Testament Word Studies PC Study Bible version 5, 2005, 15 Nov. 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.34Calvin's Commentaries.35UBS.36The Bible Exposition Commentary.37Bible Knowledge Commentary.38UBS.39Calvin's Commentaries.40UBS.
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