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Author Topic: Biblical church polity
Eden
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"let us make love our aim" [Bible]

When Jesus said, "love your neighbor as yourself", Jesus did not specify who, but He included all neighbors. I have always been astonished at how much hostility there is between Christians, especially over doctrine.

We will almost kill each other over doctrine, thinking we are doing God a favor.

John 13:35
By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, IF you have love one to another.

"make love our aim"

Eden

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Carmela
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I moved to New York a few years ago and have since found an amazing Pastor. He's in Albany. He feeds the children, helps families, and just has so many amazing programs going. I would highly suggest contacting Pastor Charlie Muller of Victory Church if you want information on building a church or school. I can't say enough about what I have seen him do. He taught a class that I attended on building a church and even though I only took the class because it was a part of my bible school curriculum, I learned so much. I only live a little over an hour away so sometimes I attend his church. I would highly recommend contacting him with any questions you may have.

Here's a link to his website, but I'm sure it doesn't even completely show the amazing work he does in Albany.

http://www.godinthecity.com/HOME.html

Hope this helps.
carmela

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www.pinecrest.org

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Aaron
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There's some good stuff in Zeena's post.

I sent you a private message regarding some of your questions.

Aaron

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Zeena
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quote:
Originally posted by flaja:
The NT uses the word pastor only once; in Ephesians 4:11 pastor is listed among the spiritual gifts. Does this mean that what we now know as a pastor in most churches, i.e., someone who is Bible teacher, business manager, fundraiser, chief cook and bottle washer, have any Biblical basis?

Jesus is the Good Sheppard, and this aught to be the role of His Pastors.

It's the Heart of the Father for His children, Living in and through the Saint annointed to Pastor.
It has little, if NOTHING to do with Bible Teaching, business managing, fundraising, chief cook nor bottlewasher.

It has everything to do with counseling God's children, revealing the Love of God towards each and every one from the Heart of the Father. Giving them a shoulder to cry on, lean on and rely on. Yet, as Jesus' role as the Good Shepherd indicates in Scripture, it is also the role of supervising individuals and bodies of individuals, directing them as to which way to go, leading them in the way Everlasting via the promptings of the Holy Spirit. To protect each one of the Lord's sheep with the tender Mercies of the Father's gift of Grace.

quote:
The Lord Is My Shepherd
By John Woodward
April 2, 2001

Last fall I received a letter from friends who live in Jerusalem. They testified of the renewed cycle of violence taking place around them. I was intrigued by their description of a local shepherd and how he calmed his little flock: "On Saturday morning, for the first time in 3 years, we had a major conflict on our street. . . Six Israeli jeeps of soldiers were protecting our street as we headed out to our Sabbath Meeting. The soldiers responded [to Palestinian rioters] by firing tear gas canisters at regular intervals.
"In the midst of all this, the Lord showed me something very touching. His ways are not our ways. While all this was going on, just below our fence in our yard, an elderly Moslem shepherd had gathered his sheep around him during all the commotion. I went to the edge of our fence and saw him there. We greeted each other in Arabic. Every time the guns fired tear gas, the sheep jumped and were afraid. The shepherd never stopped talking softly to his sheep. He reached out with his staff, constantly touching each sheep very gently. Several of the other sheep a few meters away ran to the shepherd when the guns fired. The shepherd was talking to me in Arabic, but was totally unaffected by what was going on just 200 meters down the way. This picture of God's dealing encouraged us amidst all of our conflicts and difficulties. Just like it is written in Psalm 23, He truly is an oasis of calm and rest when evil men and problems surround us."[1]

This contemporary glimpse of pastoral care reminds us of King David's famous Shepherd's Psalm. As a young man, David tended his father's flock. We can imagine the many days and nights he tended those sheep. This occupation gave him natural opportunities to grow in wisdom, stature, bravery, and spiritual vitality. Imagine him composing psalms and serenading his flock as he praised the LORD.

"David wrote, "The LORD is my shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me]. . ."(Ps 23:1 Amplified). The Bible repeatedly compares God's personal, faithful care of His people to a shepherd tending his flock. In the Old Testament we read, "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock. . ." (Ps 80:1). "He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; he gently leads those that have young" (Is 40:11 NIV). In the New Testament, Christ uniquely fulfills this role. Jesus declared, "I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own" (John 10:14). The writer of Hebrews called Him, "that great Shepherd of the sheep" (Heb 13:20), and Peter affirmed, "For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd . . . of your souls" (1 Pet 2:25).

Does this mean that God is the shepherd of everyone? Notice that David personalized this testimony: "The LORD is MY Shepherd." We were all born into this fallen world alienated from God and in need of His redemption (Rom 3:23;5:17). Isaiah compared us to erring sheep: "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him [Jesus the Messiah] the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). Therefore, we are summoned to receive Christ as our Savior and Lord: "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom 10:9,10). Only those who have been reconciled to God by grace through faith truly know God as their Shepherd (Cf. 2 Cor 5:21; John 14:6).

Christ described the characteristics of those who have put their faith in Him. They recognize His voice, enter the fold through Him, know Him, and follow Him (John 10:4,9,14,27). What blessings are given to His people! Jesus promised, "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand" (John 10:28,29).

Notice the cause and effect relationship in Psalm 23:1. It is BECAUSE the LORD is my Shepherd, that I shall NOT want. The Hebrew word translated "want" is "chacer," meaning, "to lack, be without, decrease, be lacking, have a need." It does not mean that we are guaranteed ideal circumstances. Rather, that God will provide for ALL of our ESSENTIAL needs. Paul likewise taught, "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:19).

Charles Spurgeon expounded on this text: "I might want [lack] otherwise, but when the Lord is my Shepherd he is able to supply my needs, and he is certainly willing to do so, for his heart is full of love, and therefore 'I shall not want.' I shall not lack for temporal things. Does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve? I shall not want for spirituals, I know that his grace will be sufficient for me [2 Cor 12:9]. Resting in him he will say to me, 'As thy day so shall thy strength be' [Deut 33:25]. I may not possess all that I wish for, but 'I shall not want.' Others, far wealthier and wiser than I, may want, but 'I shall not'" (Cf. 1 Tim 6:6).[2]

The story is told of a devout Quaker who leaned on his fence one day, and watched a new neighbor move in next door. After all kinds of modern appliances, electronic gadgets, plush furniture, and costly wall hangings had been carried in, the onlooker called over, "If you find you're lacking anything, neighbor, let me know and I'll show you how to live without it." With our hearts in sweet fellowship with the Good Shepherd, there are many things we can live without!

The rest of this wonderful 23rd Psalm is a pastoral tribute to the ways that God faithfully meets the needs of His people. The neighboring psalms further expand on the reasons for the Shepherd's sufficiency.

Psalm 22 foretells the Shepherd's sacrificial death: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me. . . My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots" (Ps 22:1,15-18). This was fulfilled when Christ suffered and died on the cross for us (Cf. Matt 27:35-46). Christ Himself declared, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).

Psalm 24 heralds the triumphant return of the Great Shepherd: "Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory" (Ps 24:9-10). This is the hope that we have in Christ! "And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away" (1 Pet 5:4).

Can we not fully depend upon this Shepherd who loves us so much and faithfully sustains us? Hymn writer Charles Price Jones commends to us this life of spiritual contentment. [3]

"All I Need"

"Jesus Christ is made to me,
All I need, all I need,
He alone is all my plea,
He is all I need.


Jesus is my all in all,
All I need, all I need,
While He keeps I cannot fall,
He is all I need.

He redeemed me when He died,
All I need, all I need,
I with Him was crucified,
He is all I need.

Glory, glory to the Lamb,
All I need, all I need,
By His Spirit sealed I am,
He is all I need.

Refrain:

Wisdom righteousness and pow'r,
Holiness forevermore,
My redemption full and sure,
He is all I need."

Can you say "amen" to this?

J.B.W.

April 2, 2001 Vol.4, #13

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The Lord Is My Shepherd, Part 2
By John Woodward
April 9, 2001

We have been considering the profound blessings we have in Christ as our Good Shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10).

Recently our oldest church member went to be with the Lord. She was 98 years old and loved the Word of God. The bulletin at the funeral home contained Psalm 23. Now verse 6 has been fulfilled in her experience: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever." This Psalm is universally appreciated for its poetic beauty and devotional meaning. It portrays God's sufficiency as described through the Shepherd's roles as provider, leader, and protector.

The Good Shepherd is your faithful PROVIDER! He promises to provide for your needed rest and refreshment: "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters." (Ps 23:2). C. W. Slemming notes in his book, "He Leadeth Me," that the Shepherd MAKES his sheep lie down: "Why a rest when apparently the sheep do not want one? The reason is that the shepherd can see much farther ahead than the sheep, and he has noticed a very long steep climb along a narrow and dangerous path to a mountain height. . . The rest, therefore, will reinvigorate, and so enable the sheep to go right through the strenuous climb.". . .We are living in an age of rush and turmoil. Life is very hectic and its demands are very severe, we are much too busy to rest. . . We feel sometimes that we are indispensable and ofttimes, becoming exhausted, we 'fall beside the way and faint.' Even as the physical body must have periods of rest if it is to continue in a really energetic condition, so must the soul find its repose in the Lord." [1]

Another description of provision is found in verse 5: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over." Some commentators see a shift in the symbolism from a shepherds care to a host's hospitality. Others interpret this verse as a continuation of the imagery of the shepherd and his sheep. Note that: His provision is SECURE--the enemies are held at bay. His provision is REFRESHING--the olive oil soothed and protected the anointed one. And His provision is SUPERABUNDANT--the "cup runs over"! Our cup "runs over" because we are "more than conquerors through Him who loved us." "He is able to do exceeding abundantly ABOVE all we ask or think"!! (Rom 8:37; Eph 3:20). No wonder the believer testifies, "He restores my soul" (v.3).

Second, the Good Shepherd is your faithful LEADER. "He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake" (Ps 23:3). Notice that the paths are consistent with God's righteousness and holiness. We are led this way, not just for our interests, but for His name's sake. The sheep's well being is a byproduct of keeping the Shepherd first!

It is significant that the shepherd LEADS his sheep; he does not DRIVE them. "An English guide who was conducting a party of tourists through the Holy Land had made known to them the fact that shepherds always lead their sheep, when one day one of the party called the guide's attention to a flock of sheep being driven, remarking: 'I thought you said it was never done.' 'That is so' said the guide, 'I think we ought to inquire.' Going across to the man, he said, 'Excuse me, Mr. Shepherd, why are you driving your sheep? I thought it was never done?' The man looked at him, then said, 'Shepherd? I'm not a shepherd--I'm a butcher!' So the exception proved the rule!"[2]

The legalist sees God driving him; the grace-oriented believer sees the Shepherd LEADING him. "Love for God means obedience to His commands; and His commands are not irksome" (1 John 5:3, Weymouth). "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths"(Prov 3:5,6).

Third, the Good Shepherd is your faithful PROTECTOR. Since the sheep are basically defenseless, they depend upon the shepherd's protection from wild animals such as the lion, bear, or snake. The shepherd's equipment illustrates his resources for protecting the sheep. The SLING, for example, was often made by the shepherd himself. It is familiar to us from the story of David slaying Goliath (1 Sam 17). The sling was a simple devise made of a leather pouch with two long chords. It was swung in a circle over the head. When great speed was reached, one chord was released and the stone went flying. [Imagine the skill needed for the technique, timing, and aim of the sling! At least the shepherd in Israel would have had plenty of spare time and stones to develop his skill.] This weapon was also used by soldiers, such as the "seven hundred select men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair's breadth and not miss" (Judges 20:16). The sling was an effective weapon to strike a distant enemy.

When the danger was too close for the sling, the ROD was used: "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (v.4). This club-like weapon was potentially lethal. Thankfully for the flock, the rod was not used against the sheep; it was used to fight off enemies. Likewise, we can trust in God's protection from our spiritual foes. The world, the flesh, and the devil are no match for the Good Shepherd. "The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps 27:1).

The STAFF, however, was used on the sheep. This long, walking stick had a crook on one end. This was useful for guiding the sheep and rescuing wayward lambs. As followers of Christ we need His ongoing guidance and correction. The hymn writer lamented, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love." The remedy? The "staff" of God's Word and Spirit in a surrendered heart: "Here's my heart, Lord take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above." If we stray into the self-life, false teaching, or worldly values, the Good Shepherd faithfully corrects us: "For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?" (Heb 12:6-9). So His staff indeed comforts us.

The Shepherd's protection is especially important when we are faced with high-risk situations: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." (Ps 23:4). How reassuring to know that even the threat of death cannot deter God's purpose for us. Paul had this confidence and so can we "...for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2 Tim 1:12). Notice that the path includes the valley of the SHADOW of death. Spurgeon observed, "'The valley of the shadow of death,' for death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it remains. Some one has said that when there is a shadow there must be light somewhere, and so there is. Death stands by the side of the highway in which we have to travel, and the light of heaven shining upon him throws a shadow across our path; let us then rejoice that there is a light beyond. Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot stop a man's pathway even for a moment. The shadow of a dog cannot bite; the shadow of a sword cannot kill; the shadow of death cannot destroy us. Let us not, therefore, be afraid."

How can we have peace when faced with such peril? Recognize that God is always with us! "He (God) Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not. . . in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let you down, [relax My hold on you].--Assuredly not!" (Heb 13:5, Amplified). So, with David, we find security knowing, "For You [God] are with me."

In light of New Testament truth, God's sufficiency for us is even more intimate. We are not only members of His flock, but spiritually united with the Shepherd (1 Cor 6:17). Underline each verse with the blessed assurance of our Savior's provision, leadership, and protection.

These blessings from our Good Shepherd are not limited to our earthly life. We can claim, "For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide Even to death" (Ps 48:14). And, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD FOREVER" (Psalm 23:6).

Through personal faith in Christ, you can testify with King David, "The Lord is MY Shepherd; I shall not want" (Ps 23:1). Look to Him daily for all of your essential needs!

J.B.W.

April 9, 2001 Vol.4, #14 (part 2 of 2)

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Notes

[1] C. W. Slemming, "He Leadeth Me," (CLC, 1942), 35-36.

[2] Ibid., p.32.

[3] Charles H. Spurgeon, "Treasury of David," on Psalm 23.

IMO, the Pastors place is in the trenches, not on the pulpit, though pulpit activity may be warranted at times.

Peter was called to Pastor;

John 21:15-17 [NASB]

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He *said to him, "Tend My lambs."

He *said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He *said to him, "Shepherd My sheep ."

He *said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus *said to him, "Tend My sheep .

For original Greek

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Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

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flaja
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I became a Christian while attending a YMCA day camp when I was 4 years old, but I was not raised in a Christian home. I had little opportunity to ever attend church services while growing up (the only bus ministry that came through my neighborhood had a founding pastor that was a child molester). As an adult I have not been able to find a church that is sound in doctrine and practice and which shows a genuine concern for social welfare work, which I consider necessary for any church to be legitimate.

My uncle died unexpectedly in 2005 I inherited a fair amount of cash. I wanted to put the money towards building a non-profit college prep Christian school. However, I have been unable to find any church in Florida, Alabama, Georgia or the Carolinas that is capable or willing to provide land to build on and the necessary voluntary labor to build a school.

Since 2006 I have been looking for a pastoral position that would enable me to use my inheritance to promote the Gospel. I am King James only (of a sort), so I have been interested mostly in IFB and BBF churches. I’ve always had concerns about the independent polity of these churches and the tendency of their pastors to act like dictators, but I was willing to overlook this for the sake of having a King James only congregation.

But recently I have participated in several internet message boards that are meant for KJVO/Baptists. I have had little but hostility from these boards. I have even been told that I cannot be saved because I graduated from public schools (rather than “Christian” school or homeschool) and I have a bachelor’s degree in biology from an accredited private college.

The hostility of the IFBs has only heightened my concern over the independent nature of their congregations. I’d like to get some input on several matters.

1. When a sole pastor has absolute say over what a congregation does, is the church is in violation of Acts 20:17 and Acts 20:28, which call for a plurality of leaders at the local congregational level?

2. Should congregations always look to their own membership when they need to hire a pastor or other staff members? I gather that most independent churches bring in people from outside of their congregations, but does this practice violate Titus 2:2, which some people claim says that that local church leaders should come from within the local congregation that they are to serve?

3. The NT uses the word pastor only once; in Ephesians 4:11 pastor is listed among the spiritual gifts. Does this mean that what we now know as a pastor in most churches, i.e., someone who is Bible teacher, business manager, fundraiser, chief cook and bottle washer, have any Biblical basis?

4. IFB and other churches with congregational polity reject the idea of submitting to a higher earthly authority- i.e., they don’t recognize any authority on earth that tell them that they are following false doctrine or engaging in un-Biblical behavior. But didn’t New Testament churches submit to the authority of Paul, the Apostles and the elders in Jerusalem to define doctrine and set standards for Christian practice and behavior (Acts 15 regarding circumcision)?
Do Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5 indicate that local congregations submitted to the authority of Paul, the Apostles and their designees when it came time to designate church leaders at the congregational level?

BTW: In the course of discussing this issue on other boards people from non-Baptist independent churches have also been hostile towards me for suggesting that independent churches may not be biblical. I now extend my concerns regarding IFB churches to all independent churches in general. But whatever I may say against Baptists or independent churches is not directed personally towards anyone here.

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