Get Set Free!
So Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted him, ‘If you obey what I say, then you are really my talmidim, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ ~ John 8:31-32, CJB
In case you might be wondering why I have stopped capitalizing the words pastor, apostle, prophet, etc., except for when they precede a first name that is used to begin a sentence (e.g., Apostle Paul explicitly discusses spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, and 14.), it is because of what the Holy Spirit revealed to me, concerning the words pastor, apostle, prophet, and so forth, being used as titles, offices, or parts of names. Several years ago, the Holy Spirit kept taking me back to the following biblical verses:
Now there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. Also there are different ways of serving, but it is the sane Lord being served. And there are different modes of working, but it is the same God working them all in everyone. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, CJB (Complete Jewish Bible)
After some time, the Holy Spirit finally opened my understanding about these above Scriptures. Since then He frequently continues to remind me about that understanding. The understanding He revealed to me is that apostles/ambassadors, prophets, evangelists/preachers of the Good News, pastors/shepherds, and teachers are special spiritual gifts (or domata; spiritual people gifts) and NOT titles, “church” offices, or parts of believers’ names (cf. Ephesians 4:11-12). The Holy Spirit’s initial and repeated reveal also was/is that the giving of, the serving/administering with, and the functioning/operating in our spiritual gifts involve the Triune God working in us as a unified whole—as One.
Without doubt, apostle Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6 that, first, it is the Holy Spirit who gives different spiritual gifts to different people. Secondly, it is the Lord Jesus who calls/commissions/ordains different people to serve Him through the different administrations of their Holy Spirit given different spiritual gifts (cf. John 15:16). Thirdly, it is Father God who decides the different modes (ways, forms, styles, manners, method, approaches; in essence, the effectiveness) of the different functions/operations/workings that different people use to differently serve the Lord in His ministry with their different spiritual gifts!
Furthermore, for the record, contrary to popular opinions and usages, in our English language, precisely speaking, the abbreviations Rev. and Hon. (for Reverend and Honorable) are neither titles, nor offices, nor parts of a person’s name; reverend and honorary are really adjectives! As proper title abbreviations go, in our English language, contrary to popular opinions and usages, the most commonly used proper titles that either precede full names, or first names (only), or last names (only), which also are usually in abbreviated forms, are as follows: Mrs., Mr., Ms., Prof., Dr., Gen., Rep., Sen., St. (for Saint)!
The bottom line is that if we are the Lord’s disciples and He truly has set us free from the unbiblical traditions of the institutional “church’s” men (and women), then we should be living lives that are faithful and obedient to His Word instead of lives that are faithful and obedient to unbiblical customs. As I write in my blog posting, No Gender-Based Limitations For Christian Women,
…the fact that “churchgoers” tend to refer to “pastor” as a “position” or “office,” meaning a ruling position of authority instead of a FUNCTION or service, also adds to the institutional “church’s” ignorance about women being able to be spiritual leaders in Christ Jesus’ ekklesia. The truth is that just like many biblical scholars declare that the word “church” never is used in the New Testament, because whenever Christ Jesus or the apostles are speaking about the Body of Christ, ekklesia is used instead, many biblical scholars also declare that the word “office,” which is in many English translations of 1 Timothy 3:1, 10, and 13 (KJV), is not found in the original New Testament Greek manuscripts, either. Many of these same biblical scholars also declare that even though “office” was added much later, contextually “office” in no way means a ruling position of authority. In other words, “pastor” is not a wannabe king or a powerful controlling CEO’s position of authority, and “pastor” is not a title (e.g., Senior Pastor, Teaching Pastor, or Worship Pastor), nor is “pastor” a part of someone’s name (e.g., Pastor Keen, Pastor Jones, or Pastor Smith).
Then too, what also cannot be found in the Holy Bible are Scriptures that say pastors, elders, or bishops, which basically have similar functions, are to be considered as different kinds of “offices,” nor as a stacked hierarchy (or top-down hierarchy) that depicts, for example, the bishop as being over the pastor, the pastor as being over the elder, the elder as being over the “church” members, and so forth. Nevertheless, the sad truth is that today’s institutional “church” clearly has a stacked hierarchy (or top-down hierarchy)!
Now even though the above quotations primarily are about “churchgoers” wrongly using the words pastor, elder, and bishop as “church” titles, “church” offices, or parts of believers’ names, the truth of the matter is that just as God never uses the words pastor, elder, and bishop in His Holy Bible as a title, office, or part of believers’ names, we also are not supposed to use the words apostle, prophet, evangelist, and teacher, as a title, office, or part of believers’ names! The reason why none of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher pastor, elder, and bishop terms is used in the Holy Bible as a title, office, or part of believers’ names is because these mentioned terms are clearly only used in the Holy Bible to teach Christian believers about God’s various kinds of spiritual gifts, about their spiritual gifts’ administrations/kinds of service, and about their spiritual gifts’ functions (see KJV of 1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
Lastly, if we are the Lord’s disciples and He truly has set us free from the unbiblical traditions of the institutional “church’s” men (and women), then we should have a true biblical perspective (we should base our approach to understanding how to use the terms apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, and so forth, on nothing but Scripture). The biblical perspective on how the Holy Bible deals with the issue of how to use the terms apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher is that there obviously is a very big difference between disciples of Christ Jesus “holding an office in the Body of Christ” and disciples of Christ Jesus “functioning in the Body of Christ.”
If we are faithful and obedient to the above biblical perspective, then we not only will be able to know and understand but also live according to this biblical Truth: In Christ Jesus’ ekklesia, there is only One Person who has been given any office/position, and He is the Lord Christ Jesus. The primary office/position God has given to His only begotten Son is that of Headship. God made Christ Jesus to be the ONLY Head over the entire Body of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 2:19). Secondly, God has given His only begotten Son ALL authority in Heaven and on Earth so that Christ Jesus not only is the One true Great Shepherd of His sheep, but also He is the ONLY Person who holds the true title of Lord. In other words, Christ Jesus is the ONLY Person who also has been given the office/position of Lordship, which gives Him the right to exercise ALL power and ALL authority over every Body of Christ believer (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 14:8-9; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:20-21).
On the other hand, every Body of Christ member biblically is described as a believer who has both a service/administration and a function to fulfill in the Body of Christ. No believer in Christ Jesus is ever biblically described as having been given a title or an office/position. As apostle Paul explains:
For just as there are many parts that compose one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function; ~ Romans 12:4, CJB.
Now there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. Also there are different ways of serving, but it is the sane Lord being served. And there are different modes of working, but it is the same God working them all in everyone. ~ 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6, CJB
Finally, if you want to be a true disciple of the Lord, then you will have to let THE Lord’s Truth set you free. Do it today. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Let the Gospel of Christ Jesus break those false-teaching chains off of you, right now, because those false-teaching chains do not tie you to sound doctrine. A word to the wise is sufficient!
For additionally information on spiritual gifts, please read my blog posting: Are Spiritual Gifts Still Misunderstood?