Friday, July 13, 2012

Releasing the Power of the Bible

Someone once asked the great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon: “How should you defend the word of God?” Spurgeon answered: the Word of God is like a lion. "Unchain it and it will defend itself.”
Why does the Word of God seem to be so weak, that we struggle to defend it? The answer is simple. We have put a chain on the Bible. We have kept the lion in a cage.
For centuries the Roman Catholic Church put the Bible in the cage of a Latin translation which few could understand and only the priests were supposed to read it.

The meaning of Bible words was changed to fit in with Church traditions. Saving Grace could only be received at the hands of an Ordained priest through Catholic baptism, ritual confession to a priest, going to mass and so on.

It is so easy for Evangelical Protestants to criticise the Catholic Church but we need to examine ourselves.

Have we also kept the lion in a cage?
Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye. Luke 6:42       
We have also restricted the meaning of Bible words and so robbed them of much power.
Only a Catholic priest can celebrate the Mass and many Protestants will only recognise communion administered by a Pastor.
Jesus said: “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst...” I take bread and wine alone with my wife at times. Why should not any believer or believers partake reverently of bread and wine at any time? Release the lion!
The word Pastor (Shepherd) is only used once in the New Testament to refer to certain Christians gifted to nurture, train, feed and guide other Christians.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ... Eph 4:11-12 (NKJV)
There is no context here or in the New Testament to define the institutional role of evangelists, pastors or teachers. Yet we have restricted the meaning of Pastor to refer to an ordained minister in charge of a congregation. Of course the Apostle Paul did appoint elders and the New Testament refers to leaders in churches, so I am not suggesting God does not call leaders.
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 1Ti 5:17 (NKJV)
This text supports leadership. To whom should you give double honour? YOU must decide who YOU consider to be leading well and give credit where credit is due. Many sincere pastors sacrificially serve their congregations and do not receive the support and encouragement they deserve but We should not be in a hurry to submit to leaders who demand "double honour". On the contrary, we should cautiously put them to the test.
I know your works, your labor, your patience... And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars... Rev 2:2
I highly honour the pastor of my church. Once the Holy Spirit prompted him to pray for a young man in a meeting. Pastor Phil was led to tell the young man he was a Pastor and his sheep were the young people in the street. This young believer was actually a security guard in a nightclub and he ministered in faith and love to the young people he met in his job.       
My aunt was never an ordained minister but she was a wonderful pastor. Her husband had been a prisoner of war and needed a lot of support. Their seven children became Spirit filled Christians who serve God in various ministries. My aunt pastored her husband and children and many other people including myself.
What is your ministry? If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are appointed by God to release the power of the Bible in your own life and in the lives of others.

God bless you from
Bill Derham

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