Monday, March 19, 2012

A Pastor's Duty to Protect

Matthew 7:15 reads, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Here, Jesus was warning His disciples that they would need to be constantly on alert for false prophets. He describes the false prophets as ravening wolves; but He warns them, that these wolves will at times make themselves appear as sheep. Discernment according to the Word of God is demanded.
We later read in 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." Here Paul is warning the elders from the church at Ephesus concerning the same pastoral duty. Notice, the pastor first must "take heed unto yourself". A pastor must be right with God. A pastor must constantly be on his knees, examining his heart in accordance with Scripture, and making absolute sure that what he is teaching is founded in the Word of God. It is then that Paul says a pastor has the duty to watch over the flock as an undershepherd. A church is the Lord's, not a pastors; but the Lord has given to each church an undershepherd to care it. The pastor is to oversee the work, to feed the church, to respect the church in light of its value (His own blood). Paul would go on to write that "grievous wolves" would try to enter in and would not spare the flock. He even warned in verse 30, "also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." Paul here warns that there would even be pastors who would 'rise up' speaking lies and "draw away disciples after them." Be weary of every pastor who has a cultic following, whose followers look to him as a spiritual guru, who lords over God's people. These men are wolves.
Peter spoke of this in his first epistle in chapter 5: "The elders which are among you....feed the flock of God which is among you...neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." A pastor is to lead, but as an ensample. Their life should be one to pattern after, for it should be one in harmony with the Word of God.
A pastor's duty to protect is taught in Scripture; but it should be pointed out that this duty is limited to "the flock of God which is among you..." and "to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers..."
It seems like some men of God today have taken upon themselves to protect "the flock" that God did not put them over. While I am thankful for men who will stand for truth and point out error; when dealing with the Lord's churches, one must be careful.
God did not make me the overseer of any Baptist church but one-the Cozaddale Baptist Temple. As her pastor, one of my Biblical duties is to warn her of false teachers and error. I seek to do just that. I do not see it as error to use platforms such as this blog to point out anti-christs and false churches; but those of the household of faith, we must respect the fact that the Lord set the members, the powers that be are ordained of God, and the it was the Holy Ghost which made that man the overseer of that church.
The root of the problem is what is being ignored. It is the false teaching of the Universal Church and fundamentalism that has dragged the Lord's churches into this mud slinging. A proper understanding of Scripture would forbid the Lord's churches into joining with the fundamentalist movement. A proper understanding of Scripture would point us to the fact that a pastor's overseeing is for the local church that God has placed him in.
I may not agree with _________ Baptist Church, and I may warn my people of the errors in ___________ Baptist church, but outside my people, where do I have that responsibility? Paul's exposing must be considered in light of the fact that he was God's evangelist sent to establish that church and the Holy Spirit was using Paul to write His Word for our learning in how to handle these matters.
The bottom line is found in a gross misunderstanding of the local church and pride. I say this because when it comes to all the "protecting" of God's people going on with pointing out the errors of other local churches publicly-how much is based upon DOCTRINE?
Seems like all we hear about is dress, music, and standards; but doctrine is never mentioned. Don't get me wrong, the Bible teaches standards and high standards for God's people; but how about doctrine? Why is it that we must point out and "Warn" every other fundamentalist about this church allowing rap music, but we ignore universal church teaching, open tables, close tables, and alien baptism? We can live by "well we don't all see it the same way" philosophy when it comes to these matters, but not if that church sings a Gaither song.
Again, don't get me wrong-I teach to the church the Lord has made me an overseer, holy living and I mentioned to our church yesterday the danger of the Southern Gospel INDUSTRY, but it was to my people and I also believe that doctrine matters too.
Seems somewhat hypocritical to separate over "standards" but not "doctrine"; or maybe, just maybe, we should spend more time doing what God told us to do-"take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers..."
It is a pastor's duty to protect the church the Lord has made him an overseer of; and I just believe that if our efforts and energies were spent on that and not so much trying to "lord over God's heritage," our local churches might be stronger and more pure.