I received an email from Karen Dickens who is (I suppose) from the United States. Here is what she had to ask:
Name: Karen Dickens
At a church… a preacher preached this message. This is a summary of the message. Can you tell me if you would label this the true church or a cult or what from examining this message preached about the authority in the Church? Jesus gave a ministry unto the church to pastor the body, because we can not pastor ourselves. When we get saved, we have to submit ourselves to the ministry. You can not just submit to Christ, and not His Body. Mt 7:29, People in Jesus’ time were used to reasoning about the scriptures, much like a lot of people do today. They like to pick their favorite preacher, one who agrees with their opinion, pets them, and is always kind to them. Actually our favorite preacher should be the one that does not understand us. Jesus taught with authority and he is able to give authority to others. Those chosen people are supposed to teach, preach or sing with authority. If you are not sure what you do or do not know if you are able to, you should just not do it. 1Co 12:28, Jesus gave gifts to the church, a government, where He sets the members. He doesn’t ask you or anybody. He just puts the members, as it pleases Him and we have to be obedient, Mt 22:13; Mt 16:18-19; Mt 18:18 The Lord gave authority to the ministry in the church to bind and to loose things. They’re not just able to put judgment on cigarettes, alcohol or rap music, but they have the authority to tell you in your experience what you really have and what not. (John 20:23) This is a side that is peculiar for the Church of God. The ministers recognize, if someone is out of order and have to put it in order and the church is supposed to support that. They have the key, which is the spirit and the word, and they are not going against the key. Through this power, that God has given them, there’s a lot of security for the church, thank God for this precious place.
This kind of preaching comes from a preacher who wants to have a hold on you as a lord to his servants, not giving them the benefit to ask questions. This kind of authoritative leadership is prohibited by the Bible.
(I Peter 5:2-3) “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.”
Christians must submit themselves to their leader; willingly and not by force.
(Ephesians 6:6) “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart…”
Even in contributing to the finances of the Church, Christians must do it without intimidation.
(II Corinthians 8:3-5) “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”
A Christian authority must not force himself on you. Instead, you have to submit yourself to him. It is the essence of the Gospel.
(Luke 16:16) “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”
We have so many members in the Church of God International, where I am the presiding minister; but never did I force anybody to accept my leadership.
(II Corinthians 13:7) “Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.”
Leaders of the first-century Christian church ‘beseeched’ and did not force members to submit themselves to them.
(I Thessalonians 5:12-13) “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”
The word ‘beseeched’ used in the verse is er-o-tah’-o in Greek, which means, by implication, to request. What they do is to give examples of obedience and not force anybody to obey.
(I Peter 2:21) “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:”
(Acts 20:35) “And I have been a constant example of how you can help the poor by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: `It is more blessed to give than to receive.” New Living Translation
The ministers given by God the authority to bind and to loose are those that have the keys. The keys are symbolic of understanding: understanding the word of God. A key is a device used to open something that is locked. The words of God are shut or locked.
(Daniel 12:4) “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”
The wise, with their understanding will unlock or understand the words.
(Daniel 12:9-10) “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”
The kind of preacher and his preaching you are telling me implies that he has no understanding of the Scriptures. The connotation that, “Our favorite preacher should be the one that does not understand us,” is blatantly wrong and unbiblical. A pastor or a shepherd must fully understand the plight of his flock.
(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.”