PART 8 ABUSE OF TRUST
A CONTRASTING SUMMARY OF THE CHARACTERISTICS OR PERSPECTIVESOF THE MANDATORY AND TESTED LEADERSHIP MODELS.By putting the characteristics or perspectives from each leadership model side by side this will allow you to become even more aware as to how the theology of each model significantly differs. Included below are the definitions of the words non-dispensations and dispensations, a description of each leadership model side by side, a topical question, and the characteristic or perspective that was generated from each leadership model. This information has already been formulated throughout this book, but hopefully these compacted presentations will cause the differences between the two leadership models to become more apparent. My hope is threefold—first, that you will be able to recognize in a very clear and concise manner the leadership model that you are under; second, that you will be able to answer the two questions following the brief comparative summary; and third, that you will be able to make a determination as to which model will further your spiritual growth now that you are informed about these leadership models and the perspectives that they generate.
Non-Dispensations - principles, policies, and procedures that God establishes remain constant throughout history45.
Mandatory Leadership Model - those in the hierarchy make all decisions, which according to them are for the benefit of the attendees. Members are expected to receive whatever is taught from the pulpit as truth, and to respond to it as such. There is little or no dialogue between the hierarchy and the attendees in regard to church theology, church decisions, church behavior, church participation, etc.
Dispensations - human history is made up of consecutive eras, which reflect God’s will, plan, and purpose for the believers living at that time.
Tested Leadership Model -input is encouraged from the attendees relating to church theology, church functions, church participation, etc.
Should Everything That The Leadership Teaches Be Accepted As Being God’s Words Without Examination By The Scriptures?
The Mandatory Leadership Model Characteristic
• Those who are in the leadership positions in the New Testament church have the same authority as Moses did. As Moses heard from God directly as to the words that he would convey to Pharaoh and to the elders of Israel, so do the leaders of the New Testament church receive instruction directly from God by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This infers that attendees should receive whatever those in leadership teach as being God’s words, whereby obedience to them is to be followed without hesitation. (Exodus 3:1-4:12)
The Tested Leadership Model Characteristic
• The decisions that leadership makes, as in the case of Peter who was trying to compel the Gentiles to live as the Jews, are not always scripturally correct. • In the Old Testament, Moses received the words that he spoke to the people directly from God. In other words, we can say that Moses received direct revelation from Him. This word revelation can refer to God revealing something by words that were not known before. • Likewise, in the New Testament, newly revealed truths were conveyed to certain individuals, were written down over time, and eventually contained in one book, the Bible, the completed canon of scripture. • Since there are no new revelations of truth, then the leadership does not receive revelation directly from God anymore. However, since each believer has the Holy Spirit residing within, the Spirit does provide illumination of the truths already revealed, which means that He helps to make these truths clear.• If those in leadership receive illumination from the Holy Spirit concerning their teaching or preaching, then we can say that what they are conveying is anointed. • However, like the apostle Peter, there are times when a leader’s perception, and hence decision, about a church related issue is unbiblical, which infers that his/her teachings are not always scripturally sound, and therefore not always anointed. (Galatians 2:1-14)• What the leadership teaches should not be accepted as truth without examination of the scriptures by each believer while operating under the teaching ministry (to endue us with judgment and discernment) of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 17:11; 1 John 2:27)
Onward to the next topic.
Can The Teachings And Decisions Made By Those In Leadership Be Questioned?
• Those in leadership are not to be criticized. If they are off doctrinally, and subsequently in the decisions they make, then God will deal with them directly. This view allows those in leadership to promulgate doctrinal views and make subsequent decisions that are considered by them to be absolute. Absolute means that their teachings and decisions are God sanctioned, and are not to be second-guessed. To disagree with what is taught and the subsequent decisions that are made is to not follow God’s man, and thus to reject God. (Numbers 16:1-49)
• Peter got involved in a wrong perspective that resulted in him making a scripturally incorrect public decision, which affected many believers. The apostle Paul publicly approached him before the entire church concerning this because he was to be blamed (condemned). (Galatians 2:1-14)• If someone in leadership makes a scripturally incorrect decision against a fellow believer personally in a non-public manner, then this individual can approach the person in leadership alone, privately, in order to resolve the issue. (Matthew 18:15-17)
I wonder how many churches advocate this next topic?
Does The End Justify The Means? Or, Can A Wrong Action Committed By Leadership Be Justified If The End Result Furthers The Kingdom Of God?
• Those in leadership can justify sinful behavior as long as the intent of the actions is for the benefit of the kingdom of God. (Joshua 1:1-24)
• Those in leadership can never justify sin as a means to promote the kingdom of God. It is inevitable that we, as witnesses for Christ, will be rejected by others who in some cases may want to do us physical harm. When this happens, keep your eyes on God, who will provide a word in season by means of the Holy Spirit for us to speak that which testifies of Christ. (Matthew 10:1-20)
This next topic is like a hot potato. It’s very hot to handle.
Are The Indiscretions Committed By Those In Leadership Only Accountable To God?
• Whenever someone in leadership sins, they are only accountable to God, and God alone. God will deal with him/her in his time and in his manner. Any scriptures that are looked at from the New Testament concerning addressing a leader’s sin will be interpreted in this manner. (Psalm 51:1-4)
• Two or three witnesses to a leader’s sin may bring an accusation before a public tribunal or in front of whoever is in charge to handle such matters. If the person in leadership is found guilty, then a public statement of the offense and the related censure indicating whether they will be removed from the assembly for a fixed period of time or indefinitely, will be made before the entire assembly so that the fear of the discipline of God, in this case administered through the congregation will be evident. This is a healthy thing in a Christian, especially for those in places of leadership46. (1 Timothy 5:19-21)• One witness, whether an observer or victim, is not allowed to bring an accusation. (1 Timothy 5:19-21) • However, in my opinion, if the offense is criminal in nature, the observer or victim should immediately report the crime to the legal authorities.
Some in leadership advocate that God’s love means to mind your own business as concerning another believer’s walk with God.
Does God’s Love Convey To Us That We Should Conceal (Hide) The Sins Committed By Those In Leadership?
• When we are privy to the sins of those in leadership, we should conceal them, and not tell anyone else. We can, however, pray for them that they will be able to address this area of infidelity. (Proverbs 10:12)
• Covering another believer’s sin, which could refer to the sin of someone in leadership, does not mean that the observing believer or the victim should mind his or her own business. Any believer, including someone in leadership, if found in the act of committing sin should be approached for correction and equipping. (James 5:19-20, Galatians 6:1, Matthew 18:15)• If they choose not to admit guilt and there are no other witnesses, then their sin is covered, meaning that the believer who witnessed their sin should not tell anyone else about it. (1 Peter 4:8, Matthew 18:15)• Sin that is not acknowledged doesn’t mean that it is to be covered (concealed). If there is more than one witness, then the matter can be approached again. If the offender does not admit guilt or turn from their wrong manner of life, then the matter will be brought before the church (before whoever is in charge of handling such matters) to judge. (Matthew 18:16-17)• Sinful behavior that is publicly known by the assembly is to be brought before the church immediately and judged. (Matthew 18:16-17, 1 Corinthians 5:7)
This is another hot button topic. Beware on which side of the isle you are on concerning this.
Is The Teaching By Those In Leadership On Tithing Still Relevant For The Church Age Believer?
• As the Jews would receive blessing if they brought forth tithes and offerings, so will the New Testament saints receive blessing if they followed in their steps. If a New Testament saint chooses not to give tithes and offerings in the collection, then they will be cursed (the fruit of their labor will suffer hardship). (Malachi 2:1-17, Malachi 3:6-11)
• Jesus didn’t say that tithing was no longer in effect during his incarnation. Neither did he say that any of the other observances of the Law were no longer in effect, such as offering sacrifices, observing the 7th Day Sabbath, observing the four major yearly feasts, continuing to circumcise, etc. The unveiling of the truths that the New Testament saint was to operate in was not revealed yet. Whether some of the Law or all of the Law was to be observed by the New Testament saint would be revealed during the Church Age. (Matthew 23:23)• Initially, the newly converted Jewish Christians met daily in the temple for public worship and prayer. They did not separate themselves from their Jewish brethren, or from the Old Testament institutions such as tithing, offering sacrifices, observing the 7th Day Sabbath, observing the yearly feasts, etc. Christian institutions, therefore - the prayers, the breaking of bread, the prophesying and speaking with tongues, and the apostolic teachings- were supplemental to the temple service47.• As a result of persecution, the church was scattered, and eventually its members were comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. Issues involving the observances of the Mosaic Law began to surface. Decisions needed to be made in order to understand how much of the Law was to be followed. (Acts 2:46, Acts 5:16-18, Acts 8:1)• The financial contribution for the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem was not to be collected in the form of a tithe, but as each believer could afford. (1 Corinthians 16:1-3)• There is no tenet of the Mosaic Law that, if obeyed can assist the believer in bringing them to spiritual maturity. (Galatians 3:2-3)• The Jews were not told by anyone that they couldn’t continue to practice their customs, which were based on the Mosaic Law. However, a couple of things were made very clear to them. Salvation has nothing to do with the rite of circumcision. Sanctification has nothing to do with the keeping of the Mosaic Law. • The Gentiles did not need to be circumcised in order to guarantee their salvation, and neither were they obligated to keep the Law of Moses for spiritual growth. (Acts 14:26-28, Acts 15:24,29)• A Christian is not obligated to obey the Ten Commandments in order to try to live morally, but it is by the Holy Spirit that he/she is able to live a righteous life. (Romans 7:1-8:5)
I have personally witnessed this request being made by those in leadership on a number of occasions.
Should The Leadership Encourage The Assembly Of Believers To Give Financially To The Church In The Form Of Lands Or Houses?
• The 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, then they are considered not to be of one heart and one soul with the ministry. (Acts 4:34-35)
• Leadership should never coerce the assembly in giving financially for whatever reason. • In my opinion the believers should not be asked by leadership to sell their property such as land, houses, etc. in order to meet a financial need. • The believers should give as they choose in their heart where doctrine resides in the filling (spiritual qualities) of the Holy Spirit operating within. The amount or form of their gift is between them and God. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
The next topic addresses the idea, is Moses a type of the New Testament leader?
Should The Leadership Of The New Testament Church Be Followed Unequivocally By The Assembly As The Jews Followed Moses Unequivocally?
• As the Jews were baptized (under obligation; devoted) to Moses, a type of the New Testament leader; so should the New Testament saints be baptized (under obligation; devoted) to those in leadership. • They should follow the leaders unequivocally, without reservation for leading and guidance in all areas of their life. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)
• 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. (1 Corinthians 2:1-16)• 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 him48) 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 what those in leadership have taught. 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; 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 oversight49), but their life should be lived in such a way as to be examples (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. • The 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)
Now that you have re-familiarized your-self with the characteristics or perspectives that were generated by each leadership model as pertaining to a topical related question, I have two questions for you. First, is there one leadership model whose members are more susceptible to abuse by those in leadership? Second, is the leadership above reproach concerning their teaching and behavior? Hopefully, this book has helped you to answer these two questions with confidence.
As the apostle Paul spoke to Timothy, so I encourage you to continue to:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
I would like to leave you with some closing words.
As mentioned earlier, I was involved with a church that projected one leadership model, as evidenced by: the preaching of the gospel; teachings relating to the one new man, the filling of the Spirit, etc. that resulted in changed lives, and a worldwide vision for the lost. Yet, at times there was another leadership model operating, which brought about confusion in the assembly as relating to the authority of the leadership; the anointed messages; financial obligations, and the subsequent accountability of the leadership in regards to matters relating to sinful actions. I have reflected on what could have been if I had stayed in this church, and am sure that many who have left have experienced the same thing. Some would probably call this, having regrets. But, over time, God has impressed upon me through his word that in our life whatever has happened to us is for our sake.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
One of the renderings of the Koine Greek of this verse is, “be thankful to God regardless of circumstances," or "...despite whatever may happen50.”Don’t let your past determine your present. Don’t let regret keep you in captivity to it. While I was in this ministry God changed my life. I experienced his presence as never before, and learned how to appropriate God’s divine perspective in those areas of my life that I will call weaknesses of the flesh. By the grace of God I am who I am.
There is a beautiful verse in the Psalms, as conveyed by God to the children of Israel.
Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Psalms 90:15
Paraphrasing, the verse says, “Make us to rejoice according to the days wherein you have humbled and proved us through suffering, and the years wherein we have experienced troubles.” Whether your sufferings are previous or present, ask God to reveal what he wants you to learn through it all. He will show this to you in His time and in His manner (i.e. by prayer; from a fellow believer; when reading the word; upon hearing a teaching; etc.). When all is said and done, hopefully you will respond with the words of Joseph when he unveiled himself to his brothers who had abandoned him years earlier. And, like me, God will use you to convey to others the great lessons that he has taught you.
So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God:… (Genesis 45:8)
Endnotes45R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and Publications, 1989).46Bible Knowledge Commentary.47The Pulpit Commentary.48Calvin's Commentaries.49UBS.50UBS.
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