June 30

Check out this 3 minute clip from John MacArthur on the pastor’s authority in the church:

Back in Bedford, Virginia, there is a Charismatic church whose pastor requires the members to turn over their weekly paychecks to him so hecan determine where the money goes. What?!? Who gave him such power? That is extremely unbiblical and abusive. Bizarrely, that church is growing!

A church I was a part of in the ‘70s tried to control how we dressed and lived (even outside of church), whether we went to the movies, and all sorts of things. They wanted a cookie cutter version of what a Christian was to look like and do. 1955 was the heyday of conservative Christianity and bless God we were going to get back there through all sorts of oppressive, Amish-like rules. Women couldn’t wear pants or shorts, and men had to have short hair. We were given a list of what was considered Christian and what was not. Again, where did this authority come from? It didn’t come from the Bible, I can tell you that.

So, the balance that a church and its pastors must strike is between biblical pastoral authority and congregational submission to their leadership.

THE CONGREGATION:

  1. You are to know your Bible and hold your pastors accountable for teaching the Bible.
  • “The Bible is the ultimate authority and infallible, not the pastor and not the elders. And it doesn’t mean you believe everything he says without examining it.”—John Piper
  1. When your pastors teach you the Word, you need to follow and obey those biblical instructions.
    1. The role of the Bible in our lives isn’t one where we have the option to obey it or not. Likewise, when the pastor instructs you to live according to the Bible, you aren’t allowed to ignore his instruction.
  2. Follow your pastors’ examples as they imitate Christ.
  • Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

 

  1. Back over 100 years ago a book was written about the immoral character of ministers entitled, Crimes of Preachers in the United States and Canada. Granted, it was presented as a biased attack, but sadly, many of the perversions and immoral, illegal actions of pastors which they discussed were due to men whose lives did not match up to the Christianity they publicly professed (this book even provided a long list of pastors by name, location, and the infractions they committed from adultery, rape, desertion of their families, and so on).
  2. Hence, if your pastors live Christ-like, then follow them. If not, then you are not required to.
  1. And pray for them.
    1. Timothy 2:1-2 tells us to pray for all people in authority.
    2. The spiritual battles are immense. Pray that God strengthens your church leadership to withstand Satan.
    3. The normal pressures of life are hard enough, and yet your pastors need to also have deep, invested concern of their congregation’s lives and needs. Even with deacons handling the personal care aspects of their position this pastoral investment can take a toll on them.
    4. And, realize that the Crimes of Preachersbook could be about pastors across the U.S. today in 2020. Prayer for your pastors is necessary more than ever!

PASTORS:

  1. Leadership has requirements:
  • Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

 

  1. The congregation is God’s flock, so shepherd them accordingly.
  2. Volitionally choose to lead them out of a desire to see them develop into Christlikeness.
  3. Shepherd them according to God’s will and not your own, not the will of church growth gurus, or of the culture, or of any other criteria.
  4. Lead them with integrity and not for yourself.
  5. Do not be a dictator.
  6. Be an example to the flock that points people to Jesus.
  1. Pray for your people:
    1. Paul prayed continually for those whom he ministered to. They will go through spiritual battles, life’s hard and saddening issues, challenges, discouragement, and thoughts of quitting. Pray that they remain strong.
    2. It is one of the greatest indications of your love for them.
  2. Protect the sheep from wolves!
    1. Why is it that virtually every book of the New Testament has warnings against false teachers? Because God views them as wolves attacking His precious sheep. That is why pastors are to protect their flocks just as Jesus did, by calling out false teaching and false teachers by name just as He did.

As I mentioned Sunday, I have seen and been involved with many pastors over the years, including churches I’ve been a part of, as well as to friends of mine who pastor. Some of the stories I could tell are outrageous, but ultimately they are sad.

I watched a man I knew, a former widower, plant a church with his new wife and his daughter and then get slapped upside the head by her committing adultery with the church drummer. It crushed him and he left the pastorate.

I saw another guy I knew get fired from his youth pastorate and endure a divorce due to his sexual proclivities. Yet, in a little over a decade he was made a youth pastor again, was remarried, and then in time became a senior pastor. He was booted out of the ministry as he was arrested for new sexual crimes.

A friend of mine had to temporarily move his church to an old pickle factory in a town that had another Southern Baptist Church. That other church’s pastor didn’t want him in that town because he was viewed as “competition”.

The list goes on. The point is, pastors are held to high standards because we must lead properly, lovingly, and biblically. We are not on our own agenda and we are not building our own little kingdoms on earth. We are not in the pastorate to be comfortable, and as under-shepherds we are to be ready to sacrifice ourselves for the sheep. It’s a deadly serious, God-judged position. Will we occasionally fail at our tasks? Of course we will. But we must never retire while on active duty. We must keep our focus on the fact that Hebrews 13:17 says we, the pastors, will give an account to God for how we led our churches. That scares me.

Meanwhile, church members need to know that pastoring is not a 9-5 job. Many need to realize that the pastor is not at their every beck and call. Pastoring is not about you and your wants; it’s hard and arduous, it wears a man down, and it is work. Love your pastors, reward your pastors, and as Hebrews 13:17 says, obey them so that they are serving you joyfully.

  1. Watching the John MacArthur clip above, what does he say is the pastor’s authority? _________________________________________
    1. Therefore, can you see why the source of his authority is important with regards to preventing abuse of power, or preventing the neglect of properly administered authority? ___________________________________________________
    2. Who is ultimately the source of the pastor’s authority? ___________________________________________________
  2. Guarding your pastors is essential. How can you help protect your pastors from improper influence, attacks, and abuse from within and without the church? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    1. Do you realize that internal attacks against pastors is extremely common in most every church? __________________________
      1. When I attended Thomas Road Baptist Church over a decade ago, Jonathan Falwell would mention how he got hateful e-mails (if I recall it was almost every week). People hung on every word he said and looked for slips of the tongue or ideas they didn’t like. They loved to attack minor things as if they were major. So, I decided to send him encouraging e-mails instead because he needed to know that he was supported by his congregation despite the abusers.
    2. Why do you think it is that congregants are so wicked towards their pastors? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
      1. Personally, I think it comes down to some perverse idea we have deep down inside that the pastor is there to serve us and our every need. I have a friend who was preaching meaty Bible sermons, so certain members of his church complained they weren’t being fed. He retorted that they were indeed being fed—they just didn’t like what’s on the menu (i.e. they didn’t want the deeper things of God’s Word).
      2. I remember a lady who encouraged my family to change churches when I was 13. So, we tried out the new church and all you could ever hear her do was praise the pastor. But, within a couple years she decided she didn’t like some of his flaws, so she left our church but when she was around my Mom all she did was complain about the same pastor who she practically had walking on water a few years earlier!
  • Mark Conn has a book about this whole issue called, When Sheep Attack: A Pastor’s Survival Guide. I don’t own this book, but Conn’s focus is on a common problem in too many of our churches across the country.
  1. While you are commanded to obey and follow your pastors, that doesn’t ever mean you do so blindly. They will make mistakes, and for those you forgive them. Yet, when they stray from the Bible to embrace unorthodox doctrines, or when they fall into grievous sins, or are no longer shepherding the flock, then you’ve got cause for concern.
    1. Have you ever experienced or witnessed an abusive, heretical, or flagrantly sinning pastor in a previous church setting? _______________________________
    2. As sad as these situations are, how much damage do you think they do to the testimony of the church, and more importantly to the Gospel of Christ? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thy Hand, O God, Has Guided  Hymn by E.H. Plumptre

1 Thy hand, O God, has guided

Thy flock from age to age;

The wonderful tale is written,

Full clear, on every page,

Our fathers owned Thy goodness,

and we their deeds record;

and both to this bear witness:

One Church, one Faith, one Lord!

 

2 Thy heralds brought glad tidings

To greatest, as to least;

They bade men rise, and hasten

To share the great King’s feast;

And this was all their teaching

In every deed and word,

To all alike proclaiming

One Church, one Faith, one Lord.

 

3 And we, shall we be faithless?

Shall hearts fail, hands hang down?

Shall we evade the conflict,

And cast away our crown?

Not so: in God’s deep counsels

Some better thing is stored;

We will maintain, unflinching,

One Church, on Faith, one Lord.

 

4 Thy mercy will not fail us,

Nor leave Thy work undone;

With Thy right hand to help us,

The victory shall be won;

And then by, men and angels,

Thy Name shall be adored,

And this shall be their anthem:

One Church, one Faith, one Lord.