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The Danger of the Traditions of Men

Should A Pastor Rule Over You?

Is it Right to Judge?

When a Church Becomes a Business

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In His grace and mercy, God often reaches down into a deep dark pit of problems to reach someone who truly loves Him or someone that He has chosen to help. This is by no means proof of God’s approval or validation of the church where this takes place.

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It’s no secret that many “Christian” churches have become abusive businesses disguised as churches, run by CEOs disguised as shepherds...

 

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Many professing Christians regularly compete and fall all over themselves trying to “outdo” each other in order to gain favoritism, preeminence and the high seats in the church. But there are not supposed to be any competition, favoritism, preeminence and high seats in the church...

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The church has been and continues to be bombarded by wolves, thieves, hirelings and novices in positions of authority...

 

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The Bible is clear in 1 Cor 5:12-13 and in other places in the Bible that Christians are supposed to judge matters within the church. Yet most professing Christians refuse to judge even the simplest things according to the Word of God for fear that they would be considered judgmental of brothers...

   

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Many Christians are looking for God to do something new while they reject what He has already done in Christ and through His Word. We would see a massive genuine revival of unprecedented proportions if Christians would just be content with the Word and read, study and obey the Bible instead of looking for something “more”.

 

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Many have crept in among us who teach us to take liberties in areas where God has given us no freedom and they restrict our freedoms in areas where God has given us liberty.

 

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Many Christians incorrectly believe that the Holy Spirit will only lead a few chosen individuals into all truth and these elite few will in turn lead them...

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Allow me to give you this picture: The blob is growing. It is oozing under doorways and slithering around corners. It is coming up through drainpipes and creeping in through cracks and crevices. It is on a mission determined to assimilate all who it touches. It feeds on and has absorbed millions upon millions of professing Christians and is growing to enormous size...

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Heb 13:17, partially quoted and incorrectly translated, has been used by countless authoritarian pastors as a hammer to put their congregations into blind subjection to their personal vision for how they feel that the church should operate and behave. This is contrary to the clear teachings of the Scriptures.

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We are seeing a flood of unbiblical teachings and practices in the church today that are being passed off as if they were really part of genuine Biblical Christianity. Christianity has been and continues to be attacked on all sides, from outside and from within. False teachers abound who teach a counterfeit Christ and a counterfeit gospel. Refusing to study the Bible for themselves, many Christians from all walks of life and denominations therefore lack the spiritual discernment to detect these counterfeits and so they do not rise up and take action as Biblically mandated.

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Many Christians today believe wholeheartedly that material growth is a sure sign of godliness and proof of God’s approval. They incorrectly reason that bigger means better, that bigger buildings and bigger budgets, more attendance, etc., all prove that God is working and doing something very special in their midst or in the midst of the “Joneses” that they often compare themselves to...

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Because a Christian church is incorrectly thought of as a place, a service, a building, etc, and not the called out people of God that it really is (the Ekklesia), most people assume that a church needs to be organized and managed by a CEO (disguised as a shepherd)...

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Here is an edited excerpt from a letter that I wrote today in answer to someone who emailed me asking about modern day apostles and prophets, as well as about another subject that I addressed in a different article. (Please note that I never include any personal information or the identity of anyone who writes to me, nor do I include any of their ideas or words in my writings.)...

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Is tithing Biblical? Sure, if you happen to be a non-Christian Jew who is still erroneously living under Old Testament law. But tithing is not Biblical for Christians...

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Well it seems that some people will stop at nothing to try to disgrace Jesus Christ. Yes, now someone else, this time famous filmmaker James Cameron (Titanic) and friends seem to want to cash in on the bash Christianity craze and make money by taking their shot at Jesus. This time it’s The Lost Tomb of Jesus or Jesus’ Family Tomb hoax...

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There is a way to deconstruct the institutional hierarchy and other unbiblical "environmental" problems that are so common in Christian churches today. While some churches have decent teachings, more often than not their environment is debilitating to the point where Christians cannot properly carry out what they have learned...

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Not long ago I received a heartfelt email from a discerning associate pastor who had been battling unbiblical church authoritarianism. He described some classic abuses that he was enduring under the crushing hand of a false “Senior” Pastor. He was at a loss for what he should do next in order to help correct the situation so he wrote me asking for any insights I could offer.

Here is an edited version of my response to him:

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The clear examples that we see in the Bible, specifically the letters (or Epistles) show that pastors or elders are supposed to be raised up from within the congregation and not imported from some other church, school or ministry.

 

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If you are like the many people that I regularly hear from who are searching for a small home fellowship in their area, there are a few things that I would like to point out.  First of all, if you have found one (or if you eventually find one), I respectfully recommend that whatever you do, you first take the necessary time to personally get to know the people that you intend to fellowship with before joining them as participants in any actual “formal” assemblies...

 

 

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Don’t ask me why, but most Christians are somehow fundamentally beguiled by the idea of someone controlling a physical space such as a rented or purchased building, as if this is some kind of great accomplishment or astonishing feat of talent...

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More and more I am seeing a strange new “freedom” and “love” movement infiltrate the church with disastrous results. These people who I call “the new flower children” subtly and systematically move unwary Christians away from trusting the Bible towards trusting them instead, but astonishingly they do this abominable thing in the name of loving the Bible and loving Jesus...

 

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Most Christians that I talk to do not realize the immense freedom that they have in Christ to just assemble and be the local church right where they are. Not only do they not have to search for a church, they are not even supposed to! ...

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One thing that many Christians refuse to acknowledge is the fact that dangerous Christians really do exist. Many well meaning brothers and sisters incorrectly reason that if someone is truly a Christian then there is no way they can be dangerous. I wish this were true but sadly it is not...

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There is a very popular saying in the church today that has been around in one form or another for a few centuries now...allow me to quote and comment on this very popular saying which I would like to remind you is not a verse in the Bible...

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There is a popular idea being promoted today where the family model is taught as the main model for the local church. But the Bible teaches that the human body with all its members, joints and ligaments (see Col 2:19) is the model for both the universal worldwide priesthood of all believers, meaning all Christians, and the local church as well. Hence we are called the Body of Christ not the family of Christ...

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There are a lot of people today who think all you need to get to heaven is to believe in heaven as if that alone is saving faith. That is not saving faith...

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Even though the Bible doesn’t comment specifically on where or how often that we should meet as a command, we can discern from the pattern of Scripture overall in the New Testament, that we should at least try to meet weekly (if we can) and more often if possible. But these intervals are not set in immovable stone...

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Because of all the fear of being “cursed” which dubious teachers have incorrectly instilled in Christians regarding any failure to tithe, tithing is not surprisingly one of the most difficult bad habits for Christians to break...

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The first half of Heb 10:25 along with verses 26 and 27 represent one of the most misquoted and misapplied passages of all Scripture that cult-like churches use to keep countless souls trapped in their grip...

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I hear from Christians all over the country and some in other parts of the world. Not surprisingly, the same question or variation of the question keeps coming up: Is there a good Christian fellowship in my area? First, the bad news: Unfortunately the answer to this popular questions is usually no. Why?...

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As I have already pointed out previously, there is famine of genuine fellowship today. One of the main reasons for this is because most professing Christians either start out in a cult disguised as a church or choose to join one and follow the wacky unbiblical teachings of control-based leaders instead of simply trusting and obeying what the Bible teaches...

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This is an edited letter that I sent to a legalist who wrote in asking me to join forces with him on a project that promotes Bible reading. He included a long list of his unbiblical legalistic views. Here is my (edited) response:

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Before I share the letter I sent, let me first mention that rampant legalism is possibly the worst affront to Christian liberties that we face today. From time to time I get emails from people asking me to visit their websites and lo and behold almost invariably they send me to some legalist freedom-stealing pit of condemnation and fear. I grieve for the Christians who are ignorant of what the Bible really teaches and are foolish enough to buy into the errors of these often well-meaning people...

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Many Christians within home church circles and even in some institutional church circles incorrectly believe that the key to solving problems caused by an errant one-man pastor is to spread that power and authority out over a small group of elders so that no one individual has “too much” power. This is typically called “elder rule”...

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A woman recently wrote in who had been struggling with leadership issues in her church. She asked that I give more information about how I came to the conclusions that I reached on this subject. Among other things, she wanted to know if my conclusions came from materials other than the Bible, and what Scriptures influenced my decisions.

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Many if not most churches today have substituted a false version of real Christian friendship, an empty acquaintance-level counterfeit in place of the close relationships that we see in the Bible. This mockery is exactly what Satan wants and is what many Christians settle for and maintain. It is no wonder that Christians are constantly betrayed by those who they thought were their friends.

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There is a huge deception in the church today on the subject of leadership. The concepts of “lead”, “leader” and “leadership” as defined by our culture and as we know them in our society are not remotely found in the Bible regarding men controlling the church of Jesus Christ...

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There are numerous examples in the Bible where we see Christian churches meeting in homes, but yet there is not one single example in the Bible where we see Christians meeting in any kind of building that was specially built for any church related reason, let alone for their comfort and convenience. There is also not a single example anywhere in the Bible of Christians renting or building even modest buildings for church meetings, let alone huge palatial facilities, ornate cathedrals or sprawling multi-building “campuses”...

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A dear sister wrote in asking if it is possible that God puts us into difficult situations (such as an abusive workplace) for His own divine purposes. She was wondering if maybe she has also been placed by God at an abusive church, thinking that maybe she should stay there until she has a clear leading from the Lord to depart. Here is my answer…

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This is one of those so-called “difficult” subjects that few Christians want to tackle for fear of offending someone in some camp somewhere. But this is really not a very difficult topic at all for anyone who understands that all authority in the church is vested in Christ and never in any man or woman. 

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There is much controversy within certain circles in the church today regarding whether or not a women can speak in assembly. In fact, we see very little balance overall on the topic of the role of women in the church. Instead, we basically see two extreme polarized views. There is one camp that believes a woman can be a tyrannical authoritarian pastor (which not even a man is allowed to be) and there is another camp that believes that a woman should not be allowed to even mumble a word in a church assembly. Neither view is correct.

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It is absolutely not the church's obligation to financially support a pastor or elder. This is a very popular tradition and misconception based on misinterpretations and misapplications of various Scriptures and often leads to gross financial abuse...

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Water Baptism is an outward sign of an inward commitment, but baptism is not required for salvation.  Sadly, some legalists completely and utterly misinterpret and misapply the Scriptures regarding water baptism and so they promote a very dangerous false teaching that baptism is required for salvation. This is a heresy...

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I regularly get emails from Christians asking if I know of any good churches in their area. This is probably the number # 1 question that I receive. Sadly at present I cannot say that I currently know of or can recommend any church anywhere, let alone in someone’s specific area, that regularly teaches and rigorously upholds the true Gospel along with the biblical anti-authoritarian message of loving watchman elders not controlling leaders...

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My response to an email from a reader...

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An associate pastor recently wrote in asking for help with a challenge that he received from someone who claimed that the Apostle Paul was an authoritarian. The person who brought the challenge asserted that this is justification for church leaders to therefore also be authoritarians because they are simply following by example...

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Youth groups and children’s programs have become some of the main attractions and promotional marketing engines that drive Christians to bad churches and tempt them to stay captive to those assemblies. Such programs are commonly used as powerful attendance magnets that work very well in drawing unwary people, usually entire families, into unhealthy congregations run by authoritarian dictators...

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Today most professing Christian churches celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This is not a bad thing at all. Of course Christians should recognize Christ’s resurrection every day not just one day a year. Nevertheless, for some, recognizing Jesus’ resurrection one day a year is better than none.  Regardless of the celebration or recognition of this monumental event, we must always believe in the resurrection of Christ every day...

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A dear soul wrote in and shared of the sad event of her adult son’s recently passing and she asked me if I thought he was in heaven. She explained that he died of an accidental overdose and described him as having a strong belief in God, as loving Jesus, carrying a Bible and a book of psalms. From how she described him it seems likely that he didn’t just carry those books, but also read and studied them and yet was still struggling with sin. Here is my reply, which has been edited and slightly expanded for this article:

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You asked, “Are the (following) verses implying that one must obey the word of God in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, and that even if we believe but do not follow we are damned?”

No, the Scriptures you cited (see below) are not saying that there are some works that we must do in order to be saved or that there is some mistake that we can make where we could lose our salvation (or that the presence of sin means that someone claiming to be a Christian is not saved to begin with). No, this is simply not true.  The old saying is “By faith alone in Christ alone.” And this is just as true today as back then, and it will always be just as true...

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The Bible paints a wonderful loving picture of the Christian’s relationship with Christ by using an analogy to shepherds and sheep. This provides a simple way that the church can understand and relate to the love and care that a faithful shepherd has for his sheep and the innocent undoubting trust that the sheep have for their shepherd. A search of the Scriptures for the words shepherd and sheep will bring up an abundance of pertinent verses. Ps 23:1, John 10:1-16, 1Pet 2:25 are just a few of the many examples.

 

Sadly, due to some very bad teachings and bad practices that are commonplace in many churches today, a lot of Christians miss the symbolic nature of the shepherd-sheep analogy and apply it almost literally in the area of pastoral authority. This misconception degrades congregations to a subservient and almost animalistic level because it elevates pastors to supreme masters who think they are allowed to corral, control and even devour God’s people for the purpose of furthering their manmade agendas.

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There is a rash of well-meaning teachers today who have gone way beyond that which is biblical and have clearly jumped the gun in claiming to be pastors when in fact they are not. They have failed to be patient and have failed to wait on God to further their teaching ministries His way, as He would see fit and in His timing. In addition to declaring themselves to be pastors, most of these teachers have built so-called “churches” for themselves (or have taken over an existing church) so that they not only have a built-in audience to teach to, but also have a lucrative source of donation money and volunteer time. This gives them an unfair advantage in furthering their private ministries as a teacher and this seems to be one of the most common results of a desire for gain and a hunger for power within the church.

Nevertheless, some of these men are truly gifted teachers (on some theological subjects), but because they are not genuine pastors (or elders, a synonymous term), they have no right to take on that role as well, regardless of how much they want it or how much they think there is a legitimate “need” for them to do so. Therefore when it comes to being a pastor, teachers who are not really pastors and yet stand in the role of a pastor anyway are imposters in that role plain and simple. And, because these men are at best only teachers, they leave the church starving for genuine pastoral care.

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Readers sometimes write in and ask me if I think it is a good idea for them to have a meeting and confront a controlling pastor regarding his abusive behavior. These readers hope to facilitate a type of “intervention” where they can attempt to show such as man the error of his ways and try to motivate him to repent and change. Although this may sound like a worthy endeavor, there are some very important reasons to not do so unless you are properly prepared. Consider the following...

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A man recently wrote in saying that he had a run-in with the lady at his church who takes the initiative to arrange “pastors' appreciation”. He expressed opposition to her (and rightly so), but because she quoted Scriptures that seemed to support her view, he said that he did not know how to answer and was at a loss for words. He said that this woman used three Scriptures: 1Thess 5:12-13, Hebrews 13:17 and 1Cor 9:14 (two of which were quoted from questionable Bible “translations”), to try to justify her view.

[Note: “pastors' appreciation” refers to the all-too-common ritual in the modern church where a special (and often large) offering is taken for the Senior Pastor and sometimes includes associate pastors as well who generally only receive a much lesser portion of the proceeds divided among them. Depending on the church, this event may take the form of just an offering or may also include one or more of the following: a full blown special “service”, gifts (from cakes to cars), awards, special guests, entertainment and/or emotional pleas and “testimonies” to loosen wallets and open pocketbooks. Regardless of the form, this often manipulative and exploitative event is probably most commonly referred to as “Pastor Appreciation Day”.]

Here is my response (edited and expanded for publication):

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Has God really ordained or commanded that pastors be paid, let alone receive a regular on-going salary? Well this is what most pastors tell us that the Bible teaches. Or, in reality has God granted that Gospel-preaching Christians have the right to financial or material support from the church but only if necessary?

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This article can also be titled “Has God Really Commanded That Pastors Be Paid? Part II” (This is a continuation of Part I, which should be read first in order to establish the background for this article.)

Now for the most important question: Do these men even preach the Gospel? One thing that is also conveniently overlooked within many professing Christian circles is the fact that 1Cor 9:14 applies exclusively and therefore ONLY to those who “preach the Gospel”. Let us review...

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 This article can also be titled “Has God Really Commanded That Pastors Be Paid? Part III”

Not only do droves of so-called pastors who expect to be supported by the church not preach the Gospel (or more importantly the real Gospel), even worse they HINDER The Gospel by their financial shenanigans and other abusive nonsense...

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Please note: my new website Heaven's Road is now live and online. The current web site you are viewing (Truth Guard / Christian Liberties) is an older site that runs on older technology and so it cannot be easily upgraded. So while I do plan to keep this older site online indefinately as an archive and public resource (since it has achieved high search rankings for many topics), I do not plan to add any more content here. For my latest content, please visit www.heavensroad.com or www.heavensroad.org. Either of these domain names will take you to the new web site.

Thank you,

Paul Howey

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