I realize that questioning the TPM Clergy system is disturbing to many who know no other way to conduct the worship and ministry of the local church. There also may be thoughts of “there are so many well-read Godly men and women who believe and practice clericalism, how can I dare begin to question their position?”
To address both of these concerns, let me ask the reader these questions:
(1) Are we safer following the teachings and traditions of men and their denominational organizations or following God’s Word?
(2) Can the believer understand the Scriptures through the operation of the Spirit alone or is he dependent upon those clergies to guide him? If you are comfortable depending on others to tell you what is of God, then this article is not for you. You may as well discard it now. If, however, you believe in your heart of hearts that God’s Word alone is able to thoroughly furnish the man of God (2 Timothy 3:17), and it is through the Spirit alone that we can understand His truth (John 16:13), read on. As you do, be alert to your responsibility to refuse any thoughts herein presented or thoughts of your own which are not supported by Holy Scripture.
Table of Contents
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only scripturally recognized head of the Church: “(God) has put all things under His (Christ’s) feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22). “(Christ) is the head of the body, the church….” (Colossians 1:18).
For individuals to presume authority over the Church is to dishonor the Head. Diotrophes made this terrible mistake. He loved to have the preeminence among the Church and acted on its behalf by not receiving the apostles (3 John 9,10). This is being done in TPM as well. TPM Clergy seeks and teaches about their preeminence. The TPM Diotrephes does not recognize the headship of Christ over each believer. They want to assume the position of Christ in the Believer’s life. This is called usurping. Jesus Christ is Preeminent for the Church (Col 1:18). You cannot have 2 people having the preeminence. Choose One. Either it can be Jesus or your TPM Clergy.
Many Christians readily acknowledge the headship of Christ in principle but fail to see the practical out-working of Christ as Head. First, we accept by faith that He is present among those gathered to His Name: “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). Second, He directs and leads the Church by His Spirit: “In (Christ) you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21, 22). “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2).
It was not the clergy making the decisions as directed by the Spirit. It was the Spirit of God making known to the gathered believers what the mind of Christ was.
Christ has given the Church authority to act on His behalf: “Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such a one unto Satan” (1 Corinthians 5:4,5).
This authority was not given to the clergy or to any other subset of the Church. All believers gathered in a single locality form the Church at that place. Only the local Church as a whole has authority to act in His Name. Do not let the lazy devious Clergy detach you from the headship of Jesus Christ. The Bible does not recognize the Clergy of any human organizations. Let not the TPM Wolves take you for a ride.
The Jewish system of appointing certain ones to perform priestly duties has been done away with. The work of Christ on the cross has rent the veil providing every believer free access to the Father (Mathew 27:51; Hebrews 10:20). In Christ, all believers are priests and have the responsibility to function as priests. “You also as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ…you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:5,9).
Christian worship is not by schedule or outward forms, but is simply the overflow of the heart to God: “God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth” (John 4:24), “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him” (Mark 5:6). Corporate fellowships are to be conducted “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40) as empowered by the Spirit: “We are the true circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:3).
The concept of having an office in the church whose function it is to dictate corporate worship denies the priesthood of believers and undermines the leading of the Holy Spirit. It requires the one appointed to be filled with Spirit praise at the appointed hour when in fact he may be empty. It reestablishes the Judaistic system whereby only select individuals can perform certain services. In effect, it puts the veil back up between the soul and God.
Each member of the body of Christ has been given a special gift and is responsible to use it for the good of the body: “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace that is given to us, let us exercise them accordingly” (Romans 12:6). “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:7). “As every man has received the gift, even so, minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ…For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:7,12).
The Spirit directs the use of the gifts: “all these works that one and self-same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:7). “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
God’s order in the Church allows for the liberty of the Spirit in ministry: “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others, judge. If anything be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace. For you may all prophecy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted” (1 Corinthians 14:29-31). “If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ“(1 Peter 4:11).
The concept of having an office in the church whose function it is to monopolize public ministry at the exclusion of other gifted brethren denies the gifts Christ gave and undermines the operation of the Holy Spirit.
It requires the one appointed to have all the gifts. It requires him to have a message at the appointed hour regardless of whether the Spirit has laid a message on his heart.
“Pastor” appears once in the New Testament of most English translations. It refers to one of the gifts given by Christ to the Church (Ephesians 4:7-13). It was never used as a title. It was never connected with a church office that controlled the ministry and worship of the local church. The word itself means “shepherd.” How much we need shepherds today among God’s people! We hear so often the question, “Who is your pastor?” If the question were, “Who is your shepherd?”, I am sure that many Christians would refuse to put a man in that place and respond, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1)
Sin Against the Holy Spirit
Suppose the Spirit of God has filled a brother’s heart with praise prompting him to lead the saints in public worship. Similarly, suppose the Spirit burdens a brother with a message for the gathered believers. He is a priest but cannot function. He has a message and a gift but cannot exercise it. Why? Simply because he is not ordained. He does not have credentials from man.
The Spirit is quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The blessing is lost. The Name of Christ is not exalted. The justification is “we can’t let just anyone lead in worship and the ministry of the Word. There would be confusion. We would be opening the door to erroneous and unprofitable ministry.”
As to confusion, God does not author it (1 Corinthians 14:33). If confusion results, then brethren are acting in the flesh and not being led of the Spirit at all.
Confusion may be removed when a man(Pastor/Clergy) dictates all worship and ministry, but this is a mute point since God would then not be the author.
As to error and unprofitable ministry, have you considered what is preventing the appointed minister from speaking error or giving unprofitable ministry”? That minister’s human credentials, nothing else.
The Lord Jesus would be denied the Lord’s table in TPM because that is reserved only for the members of TPM who are certified by the Clergy.
The apostle Paul would not be allowed to speak in TPM because he came “not of men, neither by man” (Galatians 1:1).
Satan, however, disguised perhaps as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), could come ordained of men and have full freedom to minister to the church and conduct its corporate worship.
“But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate…So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate” (Revelation 2:6,15). Who are the Nicolaitans? It is not God’s way to send us to church histories to understand His Word. Since the term appears nowhere else in the Scriptures, the word itself is the only means whereby we can interpret its meaning.
“Nicolaitan” means “conquering the people.” The last part of the word (“Laos”) is the word from which our English word “laity” is derived. The Nicolaitans were those in the church that subjected the common people, the laity, to a lower position. Who are those in the church today that claims a higher position, with certain privileges and authority above the laity? None other than the clergy.
We saw earlier the hateful deeds of Diotrephes in usurping Christ’s authority in the church. The deeds, however, later developed into a doctrine – as most unchecked evil practices will. What began as the pride of men seeking the first place among God’s people has developed into the teaching that such is as God would have it.
The reaction of the masses today are not unlike the masses in Israel: “The prophets prophecy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and My people love to have it so” (Jeremiah 5:31). As spiritual decline sets in, the heart readily gives up its need of caring too much for spiritual things to those who will accept the responsibility.As with Israel so with the church, unbelief will always seek to have some visual, tangible object between the soul and God.
The Lord seeing this trend looks at it and says “which thing I hate.”
It is not the people in the position that are hated. It is the deeds and the doctrine. We thank the Lord that there are many among the clergy who faithfully preach the gospel and the Word of God, but from the Scriptures, we must conclude that they are doing so in the wrong position.
Do you want to follow the Lord or do you want to follow the Clergy who has no validity with God? Decide for yourself. We have told you what the scriptures have said. The ball is in your court.