Arkiv

Jesus was not against organized religion according to the Bible

church 4”Organized religion” could be a church gathering with certain basic rules

Sometimes believers try to justify their separation from other Christians, as well as church meetings, with the idea that Jesus was against organized religion. The Bible says no such thing.

During the time of the apostles Christians often met in their homes, which makes sense since they could not always take over Jewish synagogues and start having assemblies there (but sometimes they did). The climate is usually very warm in the Middle East and this means that people often could gather outside, like on top of their buildings to make room for more people. Where I live (Sweden) it is a totally different matter, and it is a huge advantage if Christians have access to a large building in order to assemble several families who can worship together in a practical way. Hence, the idea of a large building with the very suitable name ”church” – since the building is supposed to be a place where Christian believers assemble. ἐκκλησία (ekklesia, Strong’s 1577) is often translated church and could mean an ”assembly of believers”. (An assembly of Christian believers or a church building are not necessarily Babylon ….)

Naturally a certain amount of rules must be implemented in order for everyone to have a pleasant time together in their worship. The Bible (particularly the book of Acts), gives us some details how such meetings could work out and why they are even needed. A church meeting (an assembly with Christians) provides a chance for everyone to hear sermons (from a pastor), to sing worship songs together, to hear prophesies, to get healed, to edify each other, etc. These things must logically be made in a certain order to avoid total chaos.

It is true that Christ is in our midst if 2-3 persons gather in his name, but 1) let us at least do that, and 2) this does not diminish the importance of having Christian assemblies with even more believers.

Matt. 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them

1 Cor. 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

Some Bible verses about gathering with Christians under structured conditions

It may not be a salvational matter to assemble with other Christians (and sometimes it is not even possible or preferable for various reasons), but it can be very edifying both for you and others. Maybe you believe that you know best anyway so why let some pastors speak and hold sermons you might disagree with? In that case, maybe you can enlighten fellow lost believers (like after the sermon in order to not disturb the peace). Or perhaps you are the one who needs to be enlightened after all. If you are only willing to attend a church meeting where you agree with the pastor about everything, then you will have to continue spending your Sundays alone. A church meeting is not solely there due to the sermons, but in order to have fellowship with other Christians, to sing worship songs together, etc.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching  

Below we get advice for church meetings:

Ja. 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool

Ja. 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

The ”laying on of hands” means to officially confirm a qualified person as an elder, which is an important task done by another elder. This is indeed ”organized religion”, and if everyone had obeyed Paul’s advice in selecting elders all would be well. Unfortunately Paul himself knew that there would be believers who would deviate from his teaching rather soon.

Titus 1:4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:—7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;—9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 

1 Tim. 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

Below we can read about ”organized religion” in the book of Acts. 

Acts 2:41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and FELLOWSHIP, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles44And all that believed WERE TOGETHER, and had all things COMMON; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the TEMPLE, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

We can see above that Christians had fellowship with each other in the same place. Notice that 3000 people were saved and added to them the day in question. Baptism and breaking bread with others could not be possible unless Christians assembled together. Neither would signs and wonders have a large impact on people unless they were seen by others. Christians did not abandon the temple, even though they could of course assemble also in their homes.

When Paul was out travelling, he knew there were Christian assemblies that he could meet up with. We can see below that believers met together during a certain day and time, were taught in the temple and in homes, we can read about structured purifications and offerings,

Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the TEMPLE at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the TEMPLE, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Acts 4:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20Go, stand and speak in the TEMPLE to the people all the words of this life.

Acts 4:42 And daily in the TEMPLE, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Acts 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20And straightway he preached Christ in the SYNAGOGES, that he is the Son of God.— 26And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 

Acts 13:4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 5And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the SYNAGOGES of the Jews: and they had also JOHN TO THEIR MINISTER.-–14But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the SYNAGOGUE on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15And after the reading of the law and the prophets the RULERS of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and BRETHREN, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.–

Acts 13:42 And when the Jews were gone out of the SYNAGOGUE, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 43Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

Acts 14:1 And it came to pass in Iconium that together they both went into the SYNAGOGUE of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude of both the Jews and also of the GREEKS believed.

Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the SYNAGOGUE every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the GREEKS.— 7And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God,whose house joined hard to the synagogue.8And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a SYNAGOGUE of the Jews:2And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,—10And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.—-17Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Acts 18:19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the SYNAGOGUE, and reasoned with the Jews. —22And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.— 26And he began to speak boldly in the SYNAGOGUE: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.27And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: 28For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,—8And he went into the SYNAGOGUE, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.— 

Acts 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the TEMPLE, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. 27And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the TEMPLE, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

Acts 22:17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the TEMPLE, I was in a trance;18And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. 19And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every SYNAGOGUE them that believed on thee:

Acts 24:11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. 12And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:—18Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the TEMPLE, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.

church9Church (ekklesia) is sometimes used in CONTRAST to a group of individual believers!

1 Tim. 5:3 Honour widows that are widows indeed. 4But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. — 9Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. 10Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 11But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;—16If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church (ekklesia) be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. 17Let the ELDERS (presbyteroi) that rule well be counted worthy of DOUBLE HONOUR, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.—19Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Above, Paul gives instructions to the assembly of christians (the church) concerning the treatment of widows, and he advised them to preferably take care of their own family members (like widows) rather than having the church providing for them. In that way the church could focus on those with the most urgent needs. Apparently taking care of widows was one of many functions that the church had during this time. Paul also provided regulations concerning treatments of church elders, again indicating that christian meetings were ”organized”.

3 John 1:6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: — 9I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

The man Diotrephes refused to receive the brethren and he even cast them out of the CHURCH. So the true brethren are mentioned in contrast with the Church. The wicked person (in the church) cast them out of the church.

Acts 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church (ekklesian), and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.—

If we can never say ”I’m going to church” because we as christians are always the church wherever we go, then neither does the above verse make any sense. Here we can read that Paul, Barnabas etc were ”received” by the church. It is better to receive godly men into church, instead of casting them out as Diotrephes did.

1 Cor. 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.2Now I praise you, brethren,that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. —4Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.—16But if any man seem to be contentious, WE have no such custom, NEITHER the churches of God. 17Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18For first of all, when ye come together in the churchI hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifestamong you20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.—30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.—33Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34And if any man hunger, let him eat at homethat ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

Above Paul contrasts (differentiates) ”we” with ”the church”. He is also talking about ”when ye come together in the Church”, which sounds like a physical place. Paul takes for granted that we are going away when we ”come together in the church” because he complains about people who take the chance to eat a lot of food while being in the church. Paul asks ”have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” and ”if any man hunger, let him eat AT HOME”.

1 Cor. 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands AT HOME: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Paul says above women should be silent in a teaching situation in church (not when it comes to singing, making prophesies, translating tongues, etc) and in this instance he is speaking of a certain place (away from home) and not a metaphor for believing people because he then gives permission for them to speak at home.

1 Cor.16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.— 15I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) 16That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 17I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. 18For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.19The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 

2 Cor 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.—  19And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:— 

We are supposed to be the body of Christ, which means many members with many gifts and talents. God has set some in the church (the body of Christian members) to be apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. Paul speaks about the importance to use the spiritual gifts in a certain order – in an organized way.

1 Cor. 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.— 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

1 Cor. 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.5 I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.— So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.— 11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. —16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.—  23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 

Here is a similar article about the same topic.

Annonser

The Bible about SHUNNING sinners / heretics who cause division in church – excommunication

2 cor 2But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called A BROTHER be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (1 Cor. 5:11)

There are sadly pastors and entire congregations who have completely misunderstood what the Bible says about brothers and sisters who have wandered off from the truth, resulting in a treatment which will not aid the lost persons at all.

There is one Biblical case which stands out in the Bible when it comes to ”shunning” someone, and that is when Paul criticizes the Corinthian church for not reacting despite one of their members living in a deep sin.

One sin makes you a sinner, but all sins are not of the same degree. Some sins are for example an ”abomination” before God, and we can also read about a sin ”not unto death”. Surely there is a difference between murdering an innocent person in cold blood vs being in an unexpected situation where a white lie is used in order to not reveal a nice birthday surprise? In the case of the Corinthian church, the sin in question concerned a man engaged in sexual immorality together with his father’s wife, which Paul considered was so detestable that it was ”not even named among the gentiles”. 

1 Cor. 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person. (NKJV)

Paul refers to a previous letter, and he clarifies that he did not advise the Corinthians to not keep company with all sinners in the whole world because then they could no longer live in the world. What he meant was that they should not keep company with anyone called a brother (which means a Christian brother or sister) who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Those listed sins are rather serious, and Paul tells the Corinthians to not even eat with such a person (other people might get the idea that we are supporting them in their sins or that we are just the same). Jesus of course ate with sinners, but not all his company would be regarded as his ”brothers”.

We should not try to add to Paul’s words – or withdraw. For instance, he does not say we must not talk to such people or not even say hello. Surely it would be awesome if such sinners returned to the Lord, and what better means do we have to our disposal than talking to them and try to persuade them to repent?:

Ja 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

It is hard to convert someone from his sins if we are not even allowed to have a dialogue with him. The man in 1 Cor. 5 was engaged in a serious sin (an ongoing sin not repented of), so clearly he should not have been allowed to stay in that church gathering considering that a little leaven leavens the whole lump.  It is quite possible that the man in 1 Cor. 5 is again mentioned in Paul’s subsequent letter. In this letter Paul says that the punishment was sufficient for the man, and: you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.” (NASB). 

2 Cor. 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. 6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. (NKJV)

So on the one hand Paul makes no room for a person engaged in sexual immorality (or other severe sins which he gives examples of), but on the other hand he provides a way back also for an ardent sinner provided that the person repents and leaves all sins behind. One can easily imagine that a man might be totally swallowed up with sorrow, if friends and family suddenly cease talking to him and pretend that he is nothing more than air. After a period with such a treatment, maybe the person claims to be sorry and openly repents, but can the church really trust that he has truly repented and that it is not rather a case of someone feeling lonely and wanting to return to his family and friends? God cannot be fooled.

Paul never tells us to cease having conversations with Christians even if they live in sin (it is possible to have conversations outside of a church gathering) and particularly not if they are family members. We are also told to not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father. So we should react when people sin, but think about how we phrase ourselves and how we treat them. The goal is to see them return to the truth, so a condescending and patronizing attitude might not work.

1 Tim. 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,—8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

More verses about shunning and influencing a person to repent (KJV)2 Pet

Matt. 18:12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

If a man goes astray God would certainly like to see him back on track, so we too should seek out the lost person and try to influence him to repent for his sins and return to the fold. The prodigal son did just that – he confessed his sins, repented and returned to his Father. If a brother sins against us (or perhaps sins against a whole church gathering), then Jesus tells us to first speak to him alone. It is of course essential that the person understands in what way he has sinned so that he also understands the point we are trying to make. Just saying ”I hereby rebuke you, you evil heretic!” is not enough if the person does not understand exactly what he did wrong, plus it is questionable if it is the smartest way to express oneself.

It is of course a possibility that a church leader reacts to something that is no sin at all (but rather a case of misunderstanding or twisting someone’s speech), and then it is hard to repent for something that the accused person does not see as a sin. If the case is that it was truly a sin and if the accused person refuses to listen or repent, then two or three witnesses are needed to establish the case. If the accused person is still unwilling to listen or repent, then the whole church should be told. If the accused person is still unwilling to turn around, then he must be regarded as a heathen – but note that it is still possible to have friendly and polite conversations with heathens! We are not told to ignore heathens and treat them as they do not exist, and note that it does not say that we should treat them WORSE than heathens. Surely it is possible to treat also heathens with kindness and love?

Where in the Bible can we read that also all the children (small children and teenagers) of an excommunicated person must be excommunicated as well, and no longer have any contact with the church members? (Nowhere.) The children might have been really good friends with other youngsters in a church for many years, and does God really suggest that they are no longer allowed to play or socialize with each other any more?

We should also add the risk for that the witnesses blindly obey the church leader (especially in a cult environment) who in his turn might not be entirely obedient to the Scriptures. The opposite is also true, that the church leader might blindly believe the witnesses’ description of a case. The instructions from Paul of course only work if the whole chain is unbroken – and not if the church leader is in error and makes unfair judgments. That is also why Paul told both Timothy and Titus to not be too quick with the ”laying on of hands” (selecting a person to become a church leader), because then the whole church gathering will risk to be off course.

A charged person certainly has the right to defend himself (this is true even in a secular court room), particularly in a church gathering that is not in all circumstances based on the word of God (like in a cult). If the pastor requests that a person must repent, and does not even give him a chance to defend himself or correct misunderstandings, then something is utterly wrong.

Rom. 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE which ye have learned; and avoid them.18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.

Above we can read Paul saying that the brethren should ”mark them… and avoid them” if it concerns people who cause divisions contrary to God’s words. He does not clarify to what extent they should be avoided (avoiding does not necessarily mean that we cannot even walk on the same street as the person in question), but it evidently concerns people who continuously cause division in church contrary to God’s words. If such a person repents and ceases to cause division there is always a way back, but if he refuses to cease sinning Paul’s advice should be followed.

To ”mark” them does not mean that this marking must be repeated, and that the person can be verbally attacked as soon as you meet him. It is enough to do the marking once. However, if we continue to spend time with a trouble maker, eat with him and socialize with him (as in not avoiding him), then there is a risk that other people will interpret our undisturbed friendship as though we condone his actions. That is why Paul requests to see a change in our attitude towards a clear trouble maker. Paul does not necessarily tell us to stir up a huge drama scene as soon as there are minor differences of opinions about insignificant matters. I believe Paul is talking about clear cases of sin where a person is a trouble maker and/or causes a division in church over rather essential matters while refusing to back off.

Rom. 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.—8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;—16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Above we can see how important it is to be of one body, but also how important it is to show love and respect.

Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

Paul gives instructions for a church leader, and if the church leader is subject to the word of God then it is a lot easier for the members to be subject to the church leader. However, we must always do as the Bereans (Acts 17:11) – to compare what we hear with Scriptures in order to know if what we hear is true. A church leader should speak evil of no man, be gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men, etc.  Since we too have been guilty of many sins, we could choose a wise way to influence people to repent. God has shown kindness and love to us, so we too should show the same to others. Not as in accepting their sin, but by consider the way we treat them and try to make them turn around.

Paul goes on to say a man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject. This advice must also be understood correctly and with caution. It takes some serious sins in order to qualify as an heretic (someone who clearly rejects the word of God and refuses to repent), so we should not cause an inflation of the word by spreading out admonitions left and right as soon as someone has some minor disagreements and asks valid questions. Neither should we fall into the other ditch and be so ”generous” that we choose not to react even if people in our congregation are proud of their sins.

2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Someone who refuses to accept the deity of Jesus, that he has come in the flesh, is labelled as a deceiver and even an antichrist. To accept Jesus as God is very central for the Christian faith. It is not certain that we should not allow anyone into our homes unless he/she shares our precise faith (particularly not if they are family members or relatives), but if someone wants to ”bring” an ”antichrist message” into our homes – like a former brother who would like to convert you and your family – then we should not accept him. I believe it is another matter if we invite lost people with the aim to convert them. Remember again that Jesus ate with sinners who did not view him as the Messiah.

Gal. 1:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

Paul tells us to ”restore” a person who is overtaken in a fault ”in the spirit of meekness” . Once again love and respect are taught here.

2 Thess. 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

We are told to ”withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us”, and the context here is about working and to not be a burden to others. ”For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies”. In such cases we are told ”them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread”. We are also told if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” but also Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother”. If we are to admonish him as a brother, we think about how we phrase ourselves and we do not ridicule him, repeatedly call him an heretic (once is often enough) etc.

There are certain rules about elders:

1 Tim. 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Christianity in Sweden and the fear of Christian Sweden Democrats (SD)

nazi-2Naive Swedes who live in a pretend world

Criminals are dangerous, but so are people who are way too naive for their own good and live in a pretend world. The small Christian community in secular Sweden needs a lot of prayers these days. Churches in Sweden are more or less victims of political correctness and you will even see ”the Swedish state church” making a 2016 Christmas call for us all to get back to the generous immigration laws which applied 2015 and earlier (when Sweden was overwhelmed by about 165,000 asylum seekers – even more than the record numbers previous years). Never mind if we have the means to accommodate that large amount of people or not. When it comes to the serious reality it is not ”the heart that counts”, because God never told us to jump off a cliff and count on him to save us from the problems that we ourselves have caused. The Bible even advises us to not place ourselves in debt if we can avoid it because then we are not really free. A good advice for a household as well as for a whole country, is to not live beyond our means. If we have to borrow money in order to afford our new inhabitants, and raise the world’s highest taxes to an even higher level, then something is wrong. This has nothing to do with skin color.

We will not be able to help anyone if the whole country go bankrupt, and of course it does not make sense to decrease our financial aid to the third world (where people are in desperate need of help and have no chance to collect enough money to pay smugglers who can assist them in getting to Sweden) in order to spend the money mostly on young men who seek asylum in Sweden for economical reasons. We must face the fact that we cannot be a welfare contributor to the entire world and its needs. So far we have pretended as though we can, but what we get in return is a country collapsing under its own burden – and the deterioration is getting increasingly worse. It is truly dangerous to go out at nights in many areas in Sweden, and Malmö might already be a lost city due to the crime statistics and the large amount of people living on welfare (the most common name for newly born boys in Malmö is Mohammed, and Arabic is now the second most common language in Sweden before Finnish.)

We should not blame immigrants for wanting to come to Sweden since we promise milk and honey for them and their families for as long as they live (particularly if they are minors which they are therefore encouraged to be). It is our politicians we should blame – those who have decided to ruin our country by promising more stuff than we can deliver.

We hardly have any national defense left (hence the interest to join NATO and promote globalism), people are fleeing from service jobs in hospitals, schools, the police force, etc due to the heavy work loads and in some cases also a hostile environment. More and more public areas must be protected by guards, like shopping malls, libraries and indoor swimming pools. Every single week you will read about cars set on fire, thefts, shootings, rape/gang rapes and murder. Statistics (and court accounts) show that people from the middle east and northern Africa are over-represented in the crime statistics, and particularly when it comes to the more serious types of crimes. Sweden has about 55 no-go zones (some feel that we should not use these terms because they might be offending to those who live there), and about half of them are too dangerous for the Police and emergency vehicles to enter due to the risk of being stoned or attacked in other ways. Lawlessness has taken over. Policemen are also frustrated to see criminals getting away with crimes in court (if they even get to court), and if they do get a sentence they are soon out on the streets again in a few weeks/months to continue with their crimes. Immigrants are rarely expelled to their home countries. There are examples where immigrants have gang raped a minor and still not been expelled, due to the ”poor treatment” they might expect to get in their home countries.

If you dare questioning multiculturalism and mass immigration, you will most likely be labelled a racist which means that there are people who must keep their deep concern for our country to themselves.

The famous article which caused a lot of division among Christians

There is a certain famous article published in the Christian newspaper DAGEN (and also elsewhere) December 2014, and has been shared and talked about in the Christian community ever since (together with articles and even a book from the same author in the same subject). It’s authored by Stefan Swärd and Sven-Gunnar Hultman, and signed by a large number of pastors and church employees (exactly who can be seen here). What is it about? It is about a warning concerning the political party ”Swedish Democrats” (SD) and consequently also the views by those who vote for this party. The authors point out that it is not possible to be a Sweden Democrat and a Christian at the same time (albeit not in those exact words). They claim SD is all about racism and that the view of man that SD holds is far from Christian as well as extremely distant from the word of Jesus.

I vote for this party together with about 25% (probably more) of the Swedish voters according to polls. Have 1/4th of the Swedish voters suddenly turned racist? Anyone can read what SD stands for on their website and you will not find anything remotely tied to racism, unless you purposely misrepresent the text. SD rightly points out that we are all different depending on our genes, culture, traditions, environment, upbringing, social level, etc, and yet people go ballistic when they read this, being totally convinced that SD promotes racism simply by stating the obvious.

It is quite noteworthy that Stefan Swärd and Micael Grenholm (the authors of a book published 2016 where they lash out against SD and frequently use SD:s opponents as a source) do not write books and articles warning about the Swedish communist party but focus on SD alone. (They must accept that Sweden Democrats might want to defend themselves against their attacks.) They might tell you about scandals made by SD politicians (some are misrepresentations but some scandals are sadly valid) but I could tell them about scandals from politicians from every single Swedish political party. Some of those who hate SD might claim that politicians from SD win the race when it comes to scandals, but when I ask for the statistics they can provide nothing more than examples. Are Norwegians dumber than Swedes if I provide one example of a dumb Norwegian? How about 10 examples, or 20, 40? Come on! Let us not make generalizations if we cannot prove they are actually accurate. What does the Bible say about spreading rumors and falsehood? And about judging others with different weights?

Prov. 6:16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Prov. 3:30 Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.

Prov. 11:9 An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.

Prov. 20:10 Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the Lord.

Prov. 20:23 Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good.

Lev. 19:35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.

Ex. 23:1 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:

Nowhere in the Bible will you read that Israel (or whoever) are obligated to support strangers (and their families and relatives) for the rest of their lives if strangers cross the border and would like to live with you. From the parable of the the good Samaritan we can extract that he helped one person who was almost dying, who he happened to find on his way. The good Samaritan financed this help with his own money which he probably did not have to borrow. He did not promise to finance the other person’s and his family’s living conditions for the rest of their lives – and particularly not with other people’s money.

As a Christian I believe we all derive from the same couple: Adam and Eve, and later on Noah and his wife. I believe this to be the literal truth. We all have the same blood and God doesn’t want anyone to perish. Hence, there is no skin color which is superior than the other.

The article has caused much division in the Swedish Christian communitydivision-2

My point is that this article which spread throughout the Swedish Christian community has done a lot of harm, and it has caused a great division among Christians in Sweden. Christians are separated into the 1) the good Christians who are FOR mass immigration and 2) the bad heartless ”Christians” (the racists) who are against it. So which side are you on?

I have become church less due to this split, and I know of other Christian Sweden Democrats who feel there is a great division in Church. Only one view is allowed, or else you are among ”them” and not ”us”. Three of the pastors in my church signed this document, and it is also quite possible that the Head Pastor might be of the same view (he feels that he should not take side due to his position). Why would I like to continue being a member of a church where so many pastors feel the need to warn other members for people like me? Maybe people will take large circles around me, when they realize that I am a person who vote for the ”prohibited” party which their pastors have officially red flagged. Why would I attend a Church when there is a risk that members and pastors might feel uncomfortable around me, thinking that I am perhaps just as awful as the picture painted in the article? If they have placed me among ”them”, I of course feel I am not included.

If the pastors would like to be consistent, they should not allow SD-voters to be members in their congregations considering that SD-voters are not saved in their view. If they protest and say that they have said no such thing, I must ask them if they truly believe a person is saved if he/she is a racist, has a world view (a view about fellow-man) which is far from Christian and very distant from the word of God (statements from the article which they have signed)? If they suggest that I have misunderstood them, then I can only say that a) why did they sign the document with those clear statements, and b) is it not rather ironic that also SD suffers from being misunderstood – possibly because those who interpret them prefer to go to their enemies to check their views rather than SD themselves. Why going to the source?

In Sweden it seems like only one opinion is allowed at a time, so it is a totally different story compared to our neighboring countries where various views are allowed concerning immigration volumes and consequences. The truth is that SD has similar political views as in all of our Nordic neighbors, so if SD must be labelled a racist party why not the parties that rule in our neighboring countries? Why do not Swärd and Grenholm write books where they warn about Christians in Denmark because of their support for their political systems?

Why the urgent need to judge SD based on the actions of a few members in the beginning of SD existence during a time when most of today’s SD politicians were still teenagers or even children? Who would like to be judged based on predecessors from a long time ago? What if there was a new pastor employed in a church who managed to improve the church greatly by getting it on the right track? What if outsiders still preferred to judge the pastor and the congregation based on previous pastors? Year after year? How much time must elapse before the pastor can be judged based on his own merits and actions? There are still some mishaps in the new church? OK, but what if there are mishaps in ALL churches? It still boils down to the same faulty argument:

”There are scandals made by SD politicians so you can’t vote for SD, because then you’re a racist! OK, there are scandals made also by politicians from all other parties but you’re still fine if you vote for them.”

This is double standard.

It was a HUGE mistake to sign that document, but I pray ”Father, please forgive them, they do not know what they are doing”. This does not change the fact that many christian Sweden Democrats do not feel welcome in Church.

sweden-3Why it makes perfect sense to vote for SD for a Christian

SD critics might believe that voting for SD or not is about helping or not helping people in despair. However, it is rather about different ways of helping. SD prefers to help more people (who need it the most) for less money, but the politics from the other parties are based on helping fewer people in a more expensive way (even if they are not aware of it). No one likes to be ascribed views to him/her that might not be true, and I know better than anyone else why I vote for SD. I vote for SD for a number of reasons, and not one of them is ”because a few of the pioneers in the late 1980’s and beginning of 1990’s were racists”. No, I vote for SD based on what they stand for today. Here are some of my reasons:

  • I prefer to help as many people in need as possible – and particularly those with the most urgent needs with no chance at all to pay smugglers who can bring them to Sweden. By helping people in their own countries more people can be helped for less money. Resulting in that Sweden will not deteriorate as a country and can continue to help people year after year.
  • SD often promotes Christian values in all areas, but particularly in schools where they feel it is beneficial for children to be affected by Biblical values from an early age.
  • SD considers children raised in a traditional nuclear family (one father and one mother) as the most ideal option. SD opposes sanctioned adoption and insemination to single people, same-sex couples and polyamorous relationships unless the adopting party are close relatives or already have a close relationship with the child. 
  • It is the only party that would like to see the right for abortion heavily reduced (as a start until pregnancy week 11 instead of current week 18).
  • It is the only party that criticizes the ”homosex lobby”, and SD is the only party that has no representation in any ”Pride parades”. SD feels that Pride parades promote promiscuity. Pride parades are particularly not safe or beneficial for children.
  • It is a nationalistic and social conservative political party and against globalist movement (not ”far right” as their opponents claim), and I feel it is good to be proud of our own country and to maintain our culture and traditions. Instead we are tiptoeing around new citizens due to the fear that we might offend them with our culture and traditions.
  • It is one of only two parties against a membership of EU (and a world government).
  • It is against a Swedish membership of NATO.
  • It seems to be the only party (except for maybe one more) FOR Israel and for the Jews which can be testified in their governmental legislation work on the behalf of Israel and Israel’s right to protect itself. When Sweden officially declared ”Palestine” as a state, only SD protested heavily and gave the idea absolutely no support.
  • SD is also vocal about the danger of some Islamic traditions, halal food in schools, child weddings, etc.
  • It is the only party that has rightly understood the danger of mass immigration, and Sweden does not have 55 no go zones and a ruined welfare state for no reason at all.
  • They have adopted a policy where they have zero acceptance for racism, and has clearly shown in practice that they do not hesitate to disfellowship members who do not live up to this rule.
  • It is the only political party in the true opposition. Sweden presently has a government to the left and so far it seems like every single decision they have made has been the contrary to what should be done. The other ”opposing” political parties (apart from SD) have united and they enable the left to be in power even though they could arrange a government to the right with the support from SD. It is unfortunate that they prefer to neglect their own voters and see the whole country going down in flames, rather than having something to do with SD which they stigmatize.
  • etc, etc

A christian person outside of Sweden might agree with all of the above and be heartily welcomed into a Church as a brother/sister – because he is not a Swedish Democrat and does not vote for them. So two people might share the very same views, and yet one is called a racist and one is a brother/sister. Again, double standard.

Swedish mainstream media (famous for being so critical against Israel) has decided to treat SD as a party tied to racism/nazism/fascism, and they are constantly on the hunt to find some dirt they can throw on SD. I know numerous people who have lost their jobs, positions in for instance a union or other group associations due to their SD commitments. Those who are responsible for this rejection often justify their actions by claiming that SD does not share the same humanistic view of man as other people. With other words they ascribe views to SD and people who they might not have and use it against them (i.e. a straw man). If the individual explains what his real views are he/she is not believed because of the SD commitment. Sadly many Christians have joined the bullies, and as a Sweden Democrats you must expect to be unfriended both on social media and in real life.

The same value for all! If you’re against it, you’re a racist!

There is a mantra that has been in rule in Sweden for quite some time now which goes   ”Allas lika värde” (the same value for all). Many have already decided that SD opposes this and therefore use it against them (whether it is true or not). It is of course questionable if all people truly have the same value. Does Stalin have the same value as Mother Teresa? If my children had the same value as other children, would I not save money in order to provide more children with a driver’s education and not just my own? And give food, birthday gifts, etc to other children rather than year after year always focusing on my own? No, I have a responsibility to feed my own children and to help them out as much as I can because I set them into this world. I am never exempted from this responsibility as long as they are underage and in my care. I simply cannot help all who are in financial need, so in this aspect my children have a greater value to me than others. This of course does not stop me from also giving aid to others, but it cannot compare to the time and the sums of money that I have spent on my own children over the years.

It is rather ironic that those who shout the most for ”the same value for all” place such a low value on Sweden Democrats who are often treated as third class citizens. Did you know that all political parties are given an invitation to the Nobel prize ceremony every year, apart from SD? It is again due to ”the view of man” that SD supposedly holds, but how come dictators from all over the world are invited? Did you know that owners of hotels, restaurants, etc, either often decline to take any bookings from SD representatives, or cancel the bookings later on when pressured by journalists?

One would think that a pastor would like to see people repenting from their sins and getting saved? So if they declare in a document that Sweden Democrats are distant from the word of God, why do they not take the chance and explain in which way? Please? What is the sin that I should repent from? Due to siding with the views in our neighboring countries and my stance against a harmful mass immigration?

Naturally all human beings are valuable, and naturally God does not want anyone to perish but to come to the knowledge of the truth. There is much joy in heaven for each person who repents.

There are apostles in the church today, and we are warned about false apostles

 

apostle 3”Apostle” comes from the greek word ”apostolos” (Strong’s 652) and means one that is sent forth (with orders or a mission), like a messenger.

The very first apostles were the same as Jesus first disciples.

Matt. 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Luke 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

When Judas Iscariot fell away, Matthias was appointed in his stead.

Acts 2:23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Also Paul was called by God to be an apostle.

Corinthians 1:1 Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother (Rom. 1:1, 11:13, 1 Cor. 1:1, 9:1-2, 1 Cor. 15:9, 2 Cor. 1:1, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:1, Col. 1:1, 1 Tim. 1:1, 1 Tim. 2:7, 2 Tim. 1:1, 1:11, Titus 1:1)

Barnabas was called an apostle according to Luke, and it’s possible that also Timothy, Judas Barsabas and Silvanus (probably the same as Silas) were considered apostles as well. They were certainly called, and sent forth by Paul to spread the gospel and to perform miracles.

Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me BARNBABAS and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Acts 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.14 Which when the apostles, BARNABAS and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out

Act 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed BARSABAS and SILAS, chief men among the brethren

70 other individuals sent out to spread the gospel and to heal the sick

Apart from the first 12, and apart from Paul and Barnabas, we can read from Luke that 70 other individuals were sent forth to spread the gospel and to perform miracles.

Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.—9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.—13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.—16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

In the above verses it’s clear that these 70 individuals were given much divine power. Not only does Jesus separate people between those who listen to these 70 and those who despite them, but the 70 are also given power to do mighty work like healing the sick. They were more powerful than the enemy – including the spirits from the enemy. With other words, there were no one else who had greater power apart from God and the other 12 apostles, and Jesus told these 70 individuals to pray that the Lord would send forth laborers into his harvest. This seems to be exactly what Jesus had done to these 70 at one point, because he had sent them forth to do mighty work.

The commands for the initial 12 apostles were similar as for the 70:

Matt. 28:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.—7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

In order to not confuse the first 12 apostles with the above 70 individuals (all of them called to spread the gospel by Jesus Christ), it makes sense that ”the apostles” refers only to the original apostles, including either Judas Iscariot or later on Matthias. Also Jesus Christ could actually be called an apostle, because he was also sent forth by his Father to share the gospel with the people on earth. Neither Jesus would be included whenever the Bible uses the term ”the apostles”.

Hebr. 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

John 13:16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

Even if the 70 individuals mentioned in Luke 10 had similar tasks as the 12 apostles, it’s only the 12 apostles that will be given one foundation each in the new Jerusalem. The 12 are likely viewed in highest regard because they were the first disciples who remained with him (unlike other disciples as those mentioned in John 6:66), who were taught by him, dined with him, were his close friends, etc. It’s difficult to have 12 + 70 very close and intimate friends, but it’s possible to select 12 individuals and be both a close friend as well as being their master. They in turn could do the same – gather a few people and making them into disciples.

Rev. 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Eph. 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Acts 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.

2 Peter 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.—17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Luke 11:47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation

Jesus is naturally the one with all the wisdom in the world, but since the first apostles were sent out from him they are also very trustworthy. Jude is therefore in Jude 1:3 exhorting christians ”to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. The saints were the first christians, and the very first christians were the apostles. If the apostles make sure to adhere to Jesus teaching, and if these apostles make sure to only appoint qualified men to be apostles and pastors, then all would be well in church. Unfortunately Paul (and Peter, John, Jude, etc) also knew that wolves in sheep’s clothing would be entering the church soon after their own departure. In 1 Tim. 5:22 we can read Paul’s warning to Timothy Do not lay hands on anyone hastily” (which is the way one officially appoints a presbytery/pastor), because he knew the order of events. 

Junia is a female name, but rather than being named an apostle it’s more likely that the below verse should be read as though the apostles viewed both Andronicus and Junia as godly individuals of highest regard.

Rom. 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

Apostles are supposed to be in the church, along with prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachersapostle 2

If teachers, evangelists and pastors are still active in church today, then so are apostles and prophets since they are all listed together in the below verses. Paul is explaining the church order for the Corinthians and the Ephesians (and for all of us), and it would be strange if he asked ”are all apostles, are all teachers, are all workers of miracles?”, if these functions would soon cease and lose their significance. If apostles would soon be irrelevant in church within one generation, it would be better for Paul to end all confusion by explaining that only the twelve could be considered apostles and that therefore false apostles could easily be detected.

1 Cor. 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

Eph. 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Based on the above, the order of authority seems to be: God almighty, Jesus Christ his son (Jesus is of course also God, but he is also the son who is sent out), the 12 apostles, other apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, governments and diversities of tongues.

We are warned about false apostles

If the case would be that only the initial 12 disciples could ever be considered true apostles, it would be a breeze to figure out which ones the false apostles are. Anyone claiming to be an apostle and not being among the first dozen or more, would by definition be a false prophet. Yet, the Bible doesn’t make this particular distinction between true apostles and false apostles, but it’s rather about being qualified and showing good fruit. We are warned about both false apostles and false prophets – and supposed to look out.

2 Cor. 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Rev. 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

2 Cor. 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

A true Biblical apostle would also be able to show signs, perform wonders and mighty deeds. Both Philip and Stephen did great miracles (Acts 8:6 and 6:8).

The holy Spirit and the ability to speak in tongues can be received by laying on of hands

Some christians suggest that the holy Spirit and miracles can only come from the hands of the apostles, but the Bible doesn’t narrow it down in that way. The first christians (normally the apostles) had this power, but the amount of christians increased and the holy Spirit could also be received in other ways (by listening to the gospel and having a repentant heart).

Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money

Acts. 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

Coming out of Babylon – which is always a spiritually lost state of mind

Coming out of Babylon

Make no mistake;  if someone tells you that you are in Babylon and this would happen to be the truth, then the Bible makes it painfully clear that you’re spiritually lost and on the way to HELL. You are not supposed to call a person who you believe is in Babylon for ”sister” or ”brother” because they are nothing but your enemy.

Babylon is of course a city which we can read about in the Bible, and was placed somewhere in the area which we today call Iraq. In Revelation however it’s more than just a city but a spiritually lost state of mind. The comparison with the wicked city of Babylon is not a coincidence. Revelation tells us her rule is worldwide and contrasted with the New Jerusalem (compare Rev 17:1 -Rev 21:9-10). The first is called the great prostitute and the other is called the bride the wife of the Lamb. She is covered in precious jewels, pearls and gold as is also the new Jerusalem. As the great prostitute, Babylon seduces and tempts men away from God.

Rev. 1:1And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, COME OUT OF HER, my people, that ye be not partakers of her SINS, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5For her SINS have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 7How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. 9And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 

It’s possible that some of what we can read here will take place literally to modern-day Iraq, but we are mostly reading about a lost state of mind:

17For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, 18And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! 19And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. 20Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 21And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. 22And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; 23And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. 24And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

Clearly the above is not a pretty picture, and Babylon seems to be a worse place to be in than a combination of a brothel and a nightclub for gangsters. The idea of coming out of Babylon is similar to Paul’s comment in 2 Cor 6:16-18, which refer to separation and purity:

2 Cor. 6:14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

Paul is quoting from Isaiah:

Isaiah 5211Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. 

Babylon – the harlot

The problem with Babylon was her excessive luxuries, her pride, giving herself glory, etc. She seduced the kings and the merchants to follow her ways — to seek wealth and riches (rather than God).  God’s people are told to come out of her ”so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues” 18:4.  And her sins are piled up to heaven (Rev 18:5). Read about the abominable sins Babylon is guilty of:

Jeremiah 51:7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.

Rev 17:12With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH6And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

In our past the Catholic church has been claimed to be Babylon, but there have been other theories as well. Today there is a theory that ALL THE TRADITIONAL CHURCHES (which they call the Institutional Church) ARE IN BABYLON. This means that ALL assemblies in church buildings are evil (churches in homes are not included in the ”traditional church” so these people indirectly say that you only have a chance to be saved if you are OUTSIDE of the traditional modern church). As long as you’re in the church system you’re doomed and on the way to hell. They might be reluctant to admit that this is the only outcome of their theology views, but this IS their message which you have left after having removed all the ”fluff” and the excessive words.

Think about that for a moment. Church buildings have been a factor ever since the first synagogues started to be worn out and as soon as christians felt it was safe to start meeting in larger buildings instead of in their small homes, so from 150-200 AD until today ALL christians under the sun who have remained in a traditional church have been in Babylon and therefore lost. I can’t even count how many billions of christians we’re talking about here, but it’s for certain the vast majority of christians. This means that the Gate to God’s kingdom is only opened for a tiny little remnant (are we counting in thousands?) who have regretted any involvement they might have had with the Church. And out of those christians of course only those who have lived righteously will be saved. If you have your faith in Jesus and live righteously, it wouldn’t save you anyway if you’re in the traditional church – according to some of the anti-church-movement’s websites.

Let’s not complicate matters but admit that it’s not possible to be in Babylon and still be saved (as in ”spiritually alive”) and this applies regardless if you have heard the call to come out or not. We can never excuse any kind of sin with that we didn’t hear or understand the call to come out. You can’t be conformed to Babylon, drunken by her wine, be partakers of her sin, deserving her judgment, etc and still be spiritually alive and on the way to heaven. HOWEVER, these anti-church people are of course not correct in their assessment that the traditional churches are in Babylon. Examples of erroneous teachings:

 ”We must remember that God said to come out of Babylon not change it. It is impossible for us to change the Institutional Church. It is what it is. We can’t revive it because it was never alive to begin with. We can’t restore it because it is not what God is building. We can’t dress it up and make it acceptable because it is a product of judgment—the divinely divided false thing. We can only come out of it.” 

(Comment:  there is no support for the idea that we are unable to improve a church whether it’s in a church building or in a home. The wolves are supposed to come out of the church and not the sheep. If the sheep were supposed to leave, why didn’t Jesus and Paul leave the synagogues? Why is there NOT A WORD with a warning to us that the entire church system would be in Babylon? Had we been able to read one sentence about this from Jesus, then this could have saved billions of innocent souls of people who have had no other desire but to obey the Lord’s instructions whatever they are.)

”Members of the Institutionalized Church ARE in a Babylonian frame of mind (drunk with her wine, i.e., her teachings and doctrines, her hieratical structures, her programs, her system, etc…) and they are unaware of it. They cannot see or think outside of their own religious system or traditions.—We can either stay in it and conform to it’s traditions, it’s rigid structure and it’s man-made influences, or we can break free.”

(Comment: Yes, here again there are only two options. Stay and be doomed, or leave and get a chance to be saved.)

The  Bible of course doesn’t teach us to leave all church buildings as soon as we hear something that is incorrect. If that would have been what we are told to do, then we can’t have an assembly anywhere since the risk for false doctrines will follow us wherever we go. We have not escaped the peril and the judgment just because we hide in a home. Jesus, Paul, Apollo, etc always went into the synagogues to teach and speak to people, regardless of if the synagogue was ok or not. Sometimes they were thrown out and other times they were accepted.

How to cause a division in the Body of Christ 

Causing a division is sometimes inevitable (and even necessary), but causing a division in the body of Christ for no good reason at all is just not right. Wolves would like to scatter the body of Christ. We are repeatedly told wolves in sheep’s clothing will enter among us and teach us false doctrines, and there are also wolves who simply would like to scatter us, and of course they have no concern WHERE TO as long as we just leave the Church system. If people can just make us leave church and stay home alone, then they have achieved MUCH. Unfortunately people among us are helping the atheists out to warn us against Church

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto YOURSELVES, and to all the FLOCK, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made YOU OVERSEERS, to feed the CHURCH OF God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in AMONG YOU, not sparing the FLOCK.

What advice would the devil give us to bring in heresies and cause division in the body of Christ? And how will the devil make the FLOCK – the body of Christ – dissolve and be scattered? Here are some suggestions what he might do. He might:

1) Try to make people believe that Paul didn’t really mean what he said with that all are not apostles, teachers, prophets, etc, but that just about anyone can do the teaching in a christian assembly.

2) Try to make people believe that it’s not that important to have qualified elders and that it’s a lot more important to have MULTIPLE elders. By allowing loads of people to do the teaching, false teachings will eventually slip in among us.

3) Try to make people believe that as soon as we are not allowed to be teachers and elders, and able to do what others can do, then it’s a ”hierarchy” and something bad.

4) Warn against church buildings and denominations and make sure to paint with a broad brush and use generalizations. Provide your own personal experiences when it comes to your own bitter experiences in church. Remember to make it sound as though you are describing the average church. Use video clips and articles where other people’s bad experiences are showing, and avoid material with people’s positive experiences.

5) Remind people of the verse ”For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”, and hopefully they will ignore other verses which show that the body of Christ stayed together (physically) if they only could.

6) When church-goers won’t let you spread your material in peace but start to defend themselves, then turn it on them and make it sound like they are doing the attacks so it makes you the victim.

7) Stick to your agenda and look only for anti-church material to post and avoid all pro-Church stuff. Do not search for video clips which reveal abuse, false teachings and horrible treatments within home churches.

8) When Church-goers point out your errors, inconsistencies, lack of logic, hypocrisy and twisting of Bible verses, then try to keep it short, delete posts which are way too troublesome or end the discussion.

If we truly would like to warn people about dangerous doctrines, we could warn them about this instead of  church buildings.
There is no dispute that loads of churches are bad, but not all. My main blog article about Church can be read here

All are not teachers, and about submitting to elders and other authorities

We are to be present in the body of Christ – not just spiritually

As the body of Christ we are supposed to come together physically so that we can edify each other in various ways, like praying and prophesying for each other. (If we can of course, and if there is a decent assembly to join.) The Bible tells us that we are different members of the same body, and the body is likened with a human body. All are not an ear, an eye, a knee, etc. If all would be an ear, then something would be utterly wrong with the body of Christ. The Bible tells us for example that all are not teachers, so it’s wise to not let anyone rise up to teach in Church. The greatest risk to end up with false doctrines  would be if we let unqualified teachers do the teaching in a teaching situation within a christian assembly.

1 Cor.12:27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all TEACHERS? are all workers of miracles? 

Rom. 12:6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that TEACHES, onTEACHING;

We should of course always be prepared to share the word of God and try to make disciples in various ways, but in an assembly we should let the teachers do the main teaching. This doesn’t exempt us from our responsibility to always act like the Bereans and compare all that we hear with scriptures (and test all things), and we must be prepared for that qualified teachers could still be wrong. Peter was an elder who exhorted other elders. Even if all of us are not teachers, we can still contribute in an assembly in many ways. We are encouraged to speak in tongues if there is a translation, make prophesies, share revelations, sing songs, pray for one another,  heal someone if we have this gift, etc. But all must be done in order!  Just because we are encouraged to share, it doesn’t mean we are allowed to jump off from our seats and burst out in a song or make a comment whenever we feel like it. That would be very annoying both for the teacher and for the listeners.

Some could be better used for teaching than serving tables. But also those who were appointed to serve tables in Acts. 6 must be qualified for it. They would have to be of honest report and full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom:

Acts 6:2Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 

Jesus himself gave some to apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers:

Ephesians 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 

And for what purpose?

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 

For how long?

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ

What would be the benefit of not allowing other people to be teachers?

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine 

2 Peter 2:1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  

With other words there is a risk that we will be caught up with false doctrines if we let unqualified people teach. We should be on our guards! When listening to a teacher we should show him much respect. Most churches that I have attended have allowed people to say ”amen” or ”hallelujah”,  and making brief questions and comments even in the middle of the preaching. Thankfully the comments never got out of hand, but I’ve heard comments which should have been made after the sermon instead of in the middle of it.  We must always show respect both to the teacher and to other listeners so we won’t disturb anyone. Who would like to be constantly interrupted when having a little lecture? If there are 50 listeners and half of them have a question, then the teacher would be forced to deal with 25 questions and could easily lose his thread. That could very well lead to chaos and that is exactly what Paul warns us against. He even says:

1 Cor. 14:34Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home:

James tells us to NOT be many masters (teachers, instructors), and when we are sick we are asked to call for the ELDERS so they can pray and put oil on the sick person:

James 3 1My brethren, be not many MASTERS, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

James 5:14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders (presbyterous) of the church (ekklesias) ; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 

There are special rules, compared to others, when it comes to accusing an elder for something, and if he is caught in a sin.

1 Tim. 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Peter seems to focus on exhorting the elders instead of exhorting the entire flock, since it’s the elders of a church who are supposed to be shepherding the flock in the right direction and feed it. The elders are compared with shepherds (so naming an elder ”pastor” makes perfect sense) and in a Church we are NOT supposed to take turns to be the shepherd. The elder/shepherd must be qualified and confirmed for this position, and no others should be elders. It would be great if there were more than one elder per church, but if that isn’t achievable then we would have to settle with one. The younger are asked to submit to the elder:

1 Peter 5 :1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2Feed 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; 3Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 5Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder

We don’t need to be qualified teachers in order to share something from the Bible also within an assembly, but I’m referring to the actual ”teaching” here.  There are of course loads of examples of churches where the pastor is teaching falsehood, but this only means he should never have been confirmed as an elder in the first place. Thankfully ALL churches don’t work in the wrong way. It’s possible that people with an aim to be ”democratic” would like to open up for others to do the teaching, but if we don’t follow Paul’s instructions about elders and teachers, there is a risk for deception and that is why many churches don’t work as they should:

Titus 1:10For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. 

2 Tim. 4:2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves TEACHERS, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry

Hierarchies?

It’s possible that people are terrified for anything that might smell like hierarchies in Church, and while the NT does not support an assembly where people are of different levels of importance, we can’t get way from the fact that we are different parts of the same body, resulting in that not all are apostles, teachers, elders or shepherds. The shepherd is equal in value compared to the flock, but the shepherd is still supposed to guide the flock and not the other way around. This does not mean we should follow the shepherd blindly. All members of the flock have a free will and a responsibility to follow God (the Bible) more than man.

Below is an example of an issue which could not be settled in the local church but had to go ”up” to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem so they could settle the matter. The apostles and the elders had the authority to give instructions, decrees, exhortations and confirmation of churches:

Acts 15:2When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders (presbyterous) about this question. —6And the apostles and elders came togetherfor to consider of this matter.— 22Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren:—25It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,— 30So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:—31Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 32And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.

Paul and Silas delivered decrees for the assemblies to keep, which were ordained by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. We are not able to read that the assemblies complained about this procedure, as though it would be unfair that some people can decide which rules others should keep. You might call this a ”hierarchical system” and therefore something that should be forbidden, but we are to submit to authorities (if they are godly). If we had all obeyed those instructions at all times from the beginning, then the apostles would be able to teach a group of people and confirm them, who could teach another group of people and confirm them, and so on. Clearly we have not always obeyed the instructions concerning elders because today there are some assemblies where the elders have many shortcomings – in traditional churches and particularly in Home churches. Each one should make sure to ”lay hands suddenly on no man” (confirming someone to be an elder) as Paul also instructed Timothy: 

Acts 16:4And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

1 Timothy 4:14Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the HANDS of the presbytery.

1 Timothy 5:22 Lay HANDS suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

Paul gave Timothy instructions to make sure the assembly in Ephesus teach ”no other doctrine”. Timothy should also make sure they would not give heed to fables. Hopefully the assembly in question accepted Timothy’s authority and didn’t tell him” Who do you think you are, trying to teach us all those things and exhorting us? Mind your own business because we can take care of ourselves, thank you. We don’t need anyone over us and we don’t believe in a hierarchical system”: 

1 Tim 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. 6From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

Timothy was to reprove, rebuke and exhort, and the reason was the risk for false doctrines which might sneak in:

1 Tim. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Read the above concerning some of the instructions for an elder. We are told that if his children don’t behave well, it’s doubtful he could keep the flock in the church of God. Being a pastor/elder in a church is likened with being the authoritative Father in a household. In a household a Father doesn’t take turns with his children to be the authority and the Head of the family. He should always be the authority! This of course does not give him the right to run his household in any way he wants, but he should always treat others the way he would like to be treated himself . Neither does it mean that he could not give his children a certain amount of liberty and responsibility. But it’s never the children who decides how much freedom and responsibility to give to their Father, but it’s always the other way around. 

The above verse is also yet another verse which confirms that a church gathering is often 1) away from home and 2) in a building and 3) RULED by someone. Here the church of God is CONTRASTED with a home, just like so many other verses.  We don’t always take the church with us, but we can GO to a church, and we can even be thrown out of a church by a person who is not even a true believer:

 3 John 1: 9I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

The Holy Ghost has made some people overseers over a flock, to feed the church of God. Paul knows that after his departure grievous wolves will enter in among ”you” (the listeners here were the elders in the church of Ephesus, but this concerns all of us) and that’s why he wants them to take heed.

Acts 20:28Take heed therefore unto YOURSELVES, and to all the FLOCK, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made YOU OVERSEERS, to feed the CHURCH OF God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in AMONG YOU, not sparing the FLOCK.

Ordaining elders and pastors by laying on of hands

Illegitimate & Legitimate Ministries

1 Timothy 5:22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

1 Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

2 Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

The Laying On of Hands

All of the references in first and second Timothy that I have listed above have to do with ordaining someone to the ministry.  In two of the cases the references have to do with Timothy’s calling in particular while in 1 Timothy 5:22 with those that Timothy would one day ordain.

The laying on of hands was the process used to publicly ordain an individual into a legitimate ministry.  In each of these scriptures the Apostle Paul mentions this process.  Laying on of hands was a visible sign to the Church that someone had the approval of the elders in the Church and that this person should be afforded the same respect that the elders had been given.   We would do well to follow the New Testament pattern as set forth by the Holy Ghost.

No one can have a legitimate ministry in the Church without having been ordained by a legitimate ministry.  It is chain passed all the way down from Christ to this present day. Anyone that launches a ministry and bypasses this process will have an illegitimate ministry.  An illegitimate ministry may look successful to the world around but such a ministry will never be anointed by the Holy Ghost.  It is absolutely essential that each ministry be legitimized by a legitimate ministry.

Today the world is full of illegitimate ministries.  Some one wakes up one morning and decides, “I think I will be a preacher” or “I think I will start a Church.”  Folks, it just does not work this way!  God must do the calling!  And whoever is called of God is not going to mind submitting under those that are called by God until they are mature enough to launch out on their own.  Anyone that is so arrogant that they feel this is not needed is going to be illegitimate.  Even Jesus recognized this process.  Really, no many could ever legitimize His ministry but John the Baptist, representing the Old Covenant, did baptize Jesus in the Jordan River.  What legitimized Jesus ministry was the landing of the Holy Ghost and the voice of His Father from Heaven.  Here is another verse that says much about our standing before God and man:

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. 

Paul reminded Timothy that his ministry was legitimized by the laying on of hands of the Presbytery.  The word, “Presbytery” means “order of elders” and “seasoned elders”.  These leaders had the wisdom to recognize the calling, and to ordain those that were qualified to a legitimate ministry. Without the ordination of the Presbytery these new ministries would not be legitimate.

Paul cautioned Timothy, now a Pastor, to lay hands on no man suddenly.  This is not an admonition, as so many wrongly think, to refrain from striking a person but rather an admonition to not ordain a person too quickly.  The Elders should be cautious about who they recognize as having a legitimate ministry.  These new candidates for the ministry must first prove themselves faithful and must grow up under the watchful eye of an elder minister.  The word elder does imply age but we know that age alone cannot be the criteria, for there are those that are late coming to the faith, while at the same time there are those that have grown up from birth in the Church.

To ordain someone for the ministry is so serious that it requires years of observation, training, and much prayer and fasting, hence Paul’s words, “Lay hands suddenly on no man”.  To do any less is to court certain disaster.

Paul later told Timothy in more detail not to ordain anyone that was too young and inexperienced into the office of a Pastor. The term novice does not necessarily refer to chronology but definitely refers to spirituality.  Look at these words:

1 Timothy 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

The Precedent of the Old Testament

We find this precedent in the Old Testament: in order for a new ministry to be legitimate it had to be acknowledged by a seasoned ministry.  This precedent is observed in many different passages.  We will look at the two of the more prominent relationships in scripture:

1.  Moses and Joshua- The great leader Moses had a young man that followed him for many years.  When Moses was 120 years old, and Joshua was 80 years old, Moses legitimized Joshua’s ministry.  This was done publicly at the Tabernacle.  It was this process that alerted the people to the fact that Joshua was now someone that would hold a spiritual office.

Deuteronomy 31:14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation.

2.  Elijah and Elisha- Who has not heard of the exploits of these two famous prophets?  Elijah chose Elisha years before and trained him, and upon his death, he passed the mantle on to Elisha.

2 Kings 2:9-10 9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

When Elisha returned to the followers of Elijah bearing his master’s mantle this is what happened:

2 Kings 2:15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

The Precedent of the New Testament

What is true in the Old Testament is also true in the New.  The same precedent is followed, though with emphasis on the “laying on of hands”.  Those wishing to embark on a ministry had to be ordained by the Elders or their ministry would not have been legitimate.

1.   Jesus and his Apostles- These Apostles were chosen and ordained by Christ to continue His ministry.  Jesus chose each one carefully and placed his blessing upon them.  They would be the ones after Jesus’ ascension to continue this apostolic succession (and no that is not a reference to the Pope).

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

2.  Choosing the Deacons- In the book of Acts seven Deacons were selected and ordained in the early church.  Notice that the Apostles “Laid hands on them” to legitimize their office and ministry.

Acts 6:5-6 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

3.  Paul and Barnabas chosen- Even Paul had to be ordained to a ministry that would spread the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Acts 9:27-30 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

4.  Paul and Timothy- At the beginning of this article we read the Apostle’s words to Timothy, who Paul often referred to as his “son in the faith”.  Paul reminded Timothy of his ordination and “the laying on of hands”.  The legitimate ministry of the Apostle Paul passed on a legitimate ministry to Timothy.

2 Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

5.  Paul and Titus- Titus was another young man that came up under the tutelage of the Apostle Paul.  A specific reference to Titus’ calling is not recorded but there is very little doubt that Paul followed the same pattern set forth in the New Testament.  Paul, through his legitimate standing with God, had the authority to place Titus as the Pastor of the Church at Crete.

Titus 1:4-5 4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. 5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 

Final Words

It is so important that we take note that God calls who He chooses.  Sometimes the choice of God may not be that choice we would have made.  Any person that has the call of God on their life should submit to a legitimate ministry for tutelage and growth.  If someone refuses to then they will become puffed up, arrogant, and could even backslide.  At the very worse they will continue in some capacity of ministry and most likely do damage to many.

As a Pastor for the last twenty-four years I have seen many a “hot-shot” pass through ready to set the world ablaze.  They had the fire but they really had no discipline.  Some planted their feet and grew and today they have a fruitful ministry (to date we have young ministers that grew up in our Church working in the ministry in four different states), while others were impatient and thought they knew more than everyone else.  Most of those today have not only fallen from the ministry but have also fallen from the faith with their lives completely in shambles.

No matter how much fire you feel burning on the inside, there is never any harm in learning how to keep the fire burning.  If you want a legitimate ministry then you need to seek out a Moses or a Paul.  Only a legitimate ministry can ordain you into a legitimate ministry.  There are no exceptions.

The original article by my friend Mark. Herridge Sr. can be found here