April 9, 2014

Understanding the Times and Knowing What the Church Should Do

by Eric Davis

Jamie Pierre, 250 Foot Cliff Jump, Grand Targhee Backcountry, WYFor many who live in high alpine terrain, mountain sports like skiing are a way of life. As with any such sport, carnage comes with the territory. On one particular occasion, I watched a friend missile himself off a 60 foot cliff on a day which skiers would label the snow conditions as “boiler-plate” (referring to the penetrability of the snow). When he finally landed, the boiler-plate-like snow gave 4 inches (though he stopped, his skis continued airborne without him for another quarter of a mile). By the numbers, he was going about 40mph, landed, came to a complete stop in a fraction of a second, with only 4 inches of snow-cushion. That’s probably less forgiveness than landing on hot asphalt. Needless to say, he compacted a few vertebrae and was laid up for a month. And once it was clear he was still alive, the stunt provided for a powerfully learning experience as one might imagine: among other things, don’t imitate Eddy the Eagle on boiler-plate snow conditions.

unforgivingThe falls and mishaps of others are never occasion for juicy gloating though they must be for humbly learning. At our local resort, you’re the mountain chump if you chuckle at a big fall. But you’re also the mountain fool if you fail to learn from them.

As normal for any era between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20, these past few months have seen a far share of ministry falls, scandals, apology-kind-of-things, disqualifications, and hard-to-name-types-of-things. As the church, this provides opportune learning occaions for us to understand the times and know what to do.

This is by no means exhaustive, but here are 7 suggestions in light of recent events:

1. No one is beyond falling.

could happen to anyoneIf you’re not Jesus or in heaven, then you’re not beyond a moral fall, scandal, or the like. It’s that simple. Falls happen because unglorified humans exist. So, let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). I don’t know everything my Eddy-the-Eagle-Impersonator friend was thinking that day, but he was thinking, “I’m going to land this.” He didn’t and it provided a helpful lesson for budding skiers. What happened to him could’ve happened to us.

2. The sufficiency of Scripture must remain central in life and ministry.

Whether evaluating a movement or leaders or anything for that matter, it needs to be seriously and carefully weighed up against Scripture. Both our creed and our church practice need to demonstrate the sufficiency of the word. A lackadaisical approach here is like the wheels of the train beginning to peel off.

At the recent Shepherd’s Conference, Paul Washer said something along the lines of, “That’s great if you believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. But do you believe in its sufficiency?” In other words, affirming the God-breathed source and without-error state of Scripture is certainly essential. However, are we practicing it? The necessary implication of inerrancy is its sufficiency in all our ministry practice.

biblestudyA common culprit in ministry tragedies is a soft view on the sufficiency of Scripture. How? Among other things, failing to follow clear guidelines in matters of biblical leadership and the qualification and calling thereof.

There are inevitable leadership dangers subsequent to the neglect of the sufficiency of Scripture. Leadership criteria becomes governed by, “What is so-and-so doing, is it working, and does it seem that people are being impacted?” instead of, “Are they practicing the sufficiency of Scripture so that Christ actually exercises headship in their faith and practice?” And is Christ, not only by creed, but by function, the head of that practice/church/movement?

In doing so we ensure proper buttressing and pillaring of the truth so that leadership practice is more exegetically than pragmatically based. Otherwise, though our movements may claim to be sound in creed, they are more magisterial in practice. And the latter is functional abandonment of the sufficiency of Scripture. The inevitable result is that regardless of how much we say “Jesus” and think we know and feel and sense and are impacted by “Jesus,” we’ve been impacted more by the man and his mini-magesterium.

So when it comes to ministry, preaching, discerning the calling and qualification of church leadership, ordination, church-planting, we will always set our compass right with practicing the sufficiency of Scripture. If we want to ensure faithfulness in any of the aforementioned, we need not put the cart before the horse by dialing in all our methods and how-to’s and manuals for them. We can begin and continue and end anchored in the sufficiency of Scripture. The rest will follow.

3. It would be best for the church to no longer affirm continuationist theology.

Besides the Reformers, Puritans, and others, the continuationist position has been sufficiently demonstrated as exegetically invalid. It’s an unhistorical, and more importantly, a biblically unfounded position, and so best to be laid to rest.

foundation-on-the-already-built-houseFurthermore, it’s been detrimental to the church in our generation in many ways, one being the attack on the sufficiency of Scripture. Few continuationists would deny the sufficiency of Scripture, but the position necessarily does so. Affirming the continuation of apostolic and church-foundation-laying gifts, while simultaneously affirming the sufficiency of Scripture, is somewhat of a logical contradiction. It’s akin to saying,”We’re done building but we need to keep building,” or, “Though the foundation, framing, and roofing is done, let’s put a foundation on the roof,” or, “Let’s make the whole house foundation.”

Another detriment is the under-valuing of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Since continuationism veers from the sufficiency of Scripture, it is not an over-valuing, but under-valuing of the Holy Spirit. It’s not a proper emphasis, but poor emphasis on the Holy Spirit. As John Calvin has said:

…the office of the Spirit promised to us, is not to form new and unheard-of revelations, or to coin a new form of doctrine, by which we may be led away from the received doctrine of the gospel, but to seal on our minds the very doctrine which the gospel recommends. Hence it is easy to understand that we must give diligent heed both to the reading and hearing of Scripture, if we would obtain any benefit from the Spirit of God…and, on the contrary, that any spirit which passes by the wisdom of God’s Word, and suggests any other doctrine, is deservedly suspected of vanity and falsehood…what authority can the Spirit have with us if he be not ascertained by an infallible mark? (Institutes 1.9.1)

So then, to detour from the sufficiency of Scripture (whether intentional or not) is to detour from the potency of the Spirit. And any teaching which under-values and poorly emphasizes Christ’s Agent of building the church is detrimental to the church.

And arguing for continuationism from sentiment and experience will not do. To do so also departs from the sufficiency of Scripture. Insofar as “I saw…,” “I felt…,” “I heard of someone once…,” and “I was really moved…,” form our functional epistemology, we veer from the sufficiency of Scripture. This, in large part, forms continuationist conviction. For that reason, in part, it’s best to no longer affirm the position.

4. The necessity of biblically qualified leadership.

Though its not strictly a continuationist issue, one possible related outfall is a misguided discerning of one’s calling and qualification for ministry. For example, “God spoke to me, therefore I’m called,” can become replacement for the slow, careful oversight of existing called and qualified elders discipling, overseeing, and ordaining the man. But Paul did not prescribe an audible, but biblical means for discerning the calling and qualification of church leadership (1 Tim 4:12-16, 5:22; 2 Tim 1:6, 2:2, 3:14-15; Titus 1:5). Timothy and Titus were not instructed to look for voices but verses to recognize qualified leadership (1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9).

And, “Well, he ended up working out,” or, “It looks like he’s having an impact,” is an un-invitable guest. Regardless of apparent results, it’s a shift from the sufficiency of Scripture. Especially in matters of discerning leaders, we need not disobey to obey, or presume to supplant a verse with a voice.

stick to biblical criteriaIf one still insists along the lines of, “Well, God told me, to become a pastor, therefore, I should be,” another thing is worth considering. Besides the fact that this is not in the elder qualifications (1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9), we wouldn’t dare operate other areas of the church this way. What if someone showed up in your church one day and said, “God told me I am a member of this church,” would you declare them so at that moment? Or, “God told me that I am a nursery worker here,” would we let them? Or, “God told me I’m an elder here,” or, “I am now the deacon who handles the offering because God told me so,” would that be adequate qualification?

And neither would we operate our businesses that way. How well would it fly if someone came to us as a business owner and said, “God spoke to me and told me that I am to be your CFO, or Executive Assistant, or manager”? Or would you submit yourself to a surgeon whose qualifications were, “God told me,” rather than, “The State Board licensed me?”

If we’re unwilling to do such a thing with our bodies or businesses, then how much more in the church? And if we wouldn’t do so for offering-handlers and nursery workers, how much more the pastor?

To be fair, this would not characterize the approach of all embracing continuationist theology. It’s merely one example of fallout. But it illustrates the greater issue, and expected consequence, of the deviation from Scripture and the sufficiency thereof in matters of ministry qualification.

All that to say, in these last days, God has not spoke to us audibly, but biblically. The leadership implications are that the Apostle Paul would say to pastors, then and now: “Christ spoke to me and now I am passing it to you in this letter. You will not be spoken to as I was because you are not an Apostle and foundation-layer for the Master’s Church. But you can rest on this letter’s sufficiency because it’s God-breathed. So, just guard what I’ve given you, retain what I’ve written you, and prescribe what I’ve put down for you. Train up men, lay hands on those clearly demonstrating these criteria, but don’t do it too soon lest you share in their sins.”

So, in order to ensure biblically called and qualified leaders (1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9), we must reaffirm the centrality of ordination. Richard Mayhue has said, “Ordination recognizes God’s appointment of a man to ministry and is the leadership’s way of commending him to the congregation.” It’s the way the church does its part to promote God’s best for his people by affirming the shepherds whom the Holy Spirit has made to be shepherds.

And so far from restricting the Spirit’s power in calling a man, ordination recognizes it. So far from extinguishing the man and his qualification, ordination establishes it by the Spirit. If a man has not, or cannot, get ordained by existing called and qualified leadership, he should not presume upon the Spirit that he is such.

drop-baton

What about the argument, “But I have benefited from so-and-so leader, therefore, he’s qualified”? Praise God for benefit which is actual benefit. But benefit is not grounds for the abdication of ordination. Perceived impact mustn’t renounce the necessity of biblically called and qualified leadership criteria. To do so supplants the Spirit with subjectivism. Incurring benefit is important. But the criteria for biblically qualified leaders includes far more than, “People have benefited from,” and, “God has used ___ in my life.”

If a guy is not yet ready to have a baton handed to him, then he should not have a baton handed to him. And if we are using sentiment or a story instead of Scripture to legitimize a man’s calling and qualification, we’re offbase. We’ve deviated from Christ’s functional headship in matters of his church’s leadership.

5. The need for movements to use caution with how and whom they platform.

Things like numbers and hip appeal should not give us reason for liberal affirmation. Caution is needed. Among other things, before we applaud and aggrandize an individual, we must ask, “By what process was it discerned that he is biblically called and qualified for leadership? Who ordained him and how?”

caution-cautionFurther, as much as we platform and applaud a man, we are correspondingly obligated to care and confront him when he deviates. Regardless of the numbers produced, we need to love Christ, the man, and the church enough to resist trigger-happy promotion. As an old Puritan prayer goes, “May I never make the multitude my model.”

This again boils down, in part, to the sufficiency of Scripture. Let’s honestly ask, “Is Scripture or numbers or something else the criteria by which we have applauded and aggrandized the man?”

If a movement or coalition or denomination was partly responsible for platforming and elevating me, then they need to love me enough to make a definitive statement about where I am when its clear that I was not biblically called and qualified in the first place. Its unloving to the man and the church to leave things dangling in ambiguity. If they were involved in my promotion, so must they be in my correction. As public was the former, so must be the latter.

Consider the football team who presumptuously starts a quarterback fresh out of his sophomore year in NCAA football. He puts up some numbers, wins a few games, boosts team paraphanelia sales. But soon he complains of pain, breaks a few bones, does permanent damage to himself, and wrecks the team’s name through immature interviews. Any coach who insisted on his continuing would be unloving. He wasn’t ready for that position in which it appeared he would incur results. He hadn’t completed sufficient training for that which he was presumptuously platformed. It would be best for him to be loved by removal and further care. It’s the loving thing to do.

6. It’s best to err on the side of inviting reproof from older, tested men.

No matter how huge our congregation, movement, campuses, book deals, conference invites, and Twitter followers get, we must never neglect the sacred practice of inviting and receiving personal input from older, seasoned pastors. In fact, the bigger those things get, the greater our need for reproof. The higher we are on the ladder, the more we need men to point out spiritual tears in our pants.

On this topic, I recently heard a wise, seasoned leader say, “Superficial success feeds the monster of [one’s] own authority.” And whether church planting, pastoring, preaching, or writing, the criteria for success is biblical fidelity. Inviting personal input from weathered, successful men is an absolute must.

Proverbs 15:31-33 He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself.

Proverbs 29:1 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.

7. It’s ok to grow and raise up church leaders slowly and cautiously.

We must pour into men as hard as possible. But patience is a must here. On the topic, the late Dr. S. Lewis Johnson once said: “Be an oak, not a mushroom.” Oaks grow slow, steady, and, therefore, strong. Unlike a mushroom, though, it won’t wow a crowd with seemingly instant sprouting. It actually would be boring to watch an oak develop. But that oak will stand and keep standing.

slow and strongIt’s like how Alex Montoya, an oak-of-a-pastor, once exhorted us young seminarians: “Men, grow old quick.” In other words, “Flee the casual, cute, cleverness intrinsic to youth.” It’s the youth in us which sometimes hazardously suggest ministerial Eddy-the-Eagle impersonations. But Paul saw youth as potentially detrimental to ministry (1 Tim 4:12, 2 Tim 2:22).

At times in child-raising we parents can get antsy if our 4 year olds haven’t memorized Romans, the multiplication table, and still dump their Cheerios on their heads. But it’s ok. They’re kids. It takes time to raise, train, and love a child into adulthood. So it is in raising and recognizing church leaders. It’s ok to grow and raise up church leaders slowly and cautiously. And it’s wise (1 Tim 5:22). We can trust God to grow that which he’s birthed (Phil 1:6).

So, let’s be wise amidst those boiler-plate conditions out there. And let’s go to school when others are not, knowing we’re not above a slip ourselves. It’s a God-given opportunity to understand the times and know what the church should do.

 

Eric Davis

Posts Twitter

Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008.
  • Jeff Schlottmann

    Oh this is a great post for me. We’ve been at our church almost 4 months now. Its a baptist church. Things are starting to get questionable. These things happened all last sundayThe bulletin had a flyer for a ladies retreat with Poppy Smith as speaker. She has a masters in spiritual formation and direction, which seems strange.

    The pastor suggested we all get a book by Bruce  Wilkinson called Secret of the Vine. He also wrote Prayer of Jabez. Pastor said it changed his life.

    They played a worship music video of Hillsong singing a song called Oceans. The video scene was a darkened auditorium with hazy blue lights all over and a massive ocean on a gigantic screen. It was hypnotic.

    And then the invitation to salvation at the end. No mention of the need for repentance. What was supposed to be a closing prayer seemed to be directed at the church as he never directed it at God.

    The church seems pretty strict on what attendees can get involved in, but are very lax on the outside matrial they promote. They seem to be leaning over the fence into continuationist ideas. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but it reminds me a bit of my pentecostal days.

    Mr. Davis,do you guys have any old articles on spiritual formation? Or know much about it? informationseems to be lacking a bit. It seems to blend with normal church life, but with word faith doctrine behind it. That poppy smith lady has a book about changing your life with the words we say.
    This site has some info including a list of churches and seminaries who promote ithttp://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/spiritualformation.htm

    Thanks for this article

    • Eric Davis

      Jeff-

      Thanks for the encouragement. Per your church situation, if you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to pray for strength in that, serve, ask God to bring change where it’s needed, and, insofar as you’re able, to be a blessing to the leadership. If you cannot safely be shepherded there, it may be best to move on.

      As far as spiritual formation articles, I believe we have several. But could you be more specific as to what you’re looking for in that area? Thanks

  • Brad

    Thinking over the falls and mishaps of the past couple of months it seems like one key ingredient that was missing in every circumstance was real life-on-life community.

    • Eric Davis

      Brad-

      As far as I’m aware in many of these recent situations, I think that’s likely an accurate observation. Though it’s difficult, we must do what we can to keep a culture of Heb 3:12-13 and Gal 6:1-3, especially for those of us in leadership positions. We never rise above the need for that.

      • brad

        Thanks, Eric!

  • kevin2184

    Well said, Eric.

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks for your encouragement, Kevin.

  • Reuben

    I am currently trying to work through the continuationist/cessationist issue. I tend to lean towards cessationism, but am in a continuationist church (would not consider it charismatic and definitely not pentecostal). I have listened to and read arguments on both sides, but want to filter everything through scripture. My question is this: If tongues and prophecies were only to establish the church before the NT Canon was complete, then why are significant portions of several chapters in 1 Corinthians dedicated to talking about these gifts and their proper uses? To me, it seems like there shouldn’t be guidelines in scripture for something that was to be a precursor of scripture. Kind of like having instructions in a computer file for how to set up the monitor, mouse, and keyboard; once the computer is set up to view the instructions, there is no need to read the instructions. Like I said before, I am trying to figure this all out and would greatly appreciate any help in seeing how this harmonizes with the continuationist position. Thanks.

    • Reuben

      Sorry. Should be “cessationist,” not “continuationist” at the end. Thanks.

    • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

      That’s a good question, Reuben. The key is recognizing that Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written first to the Corinthians. Certainly all Scripture is for us, but none of it was first to us, and so we have to consider the original context and occasion for which it was written. When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, those miraculous gifts were in operation, and, in fact, were being abused by that congregation. Naturally, the Apostle saw the need to lay down directives for their use in a congregation that was still over 40 years from the close of the canon. And so he is addressing the things that were pertinent for that congregation, and even specifically about the things which they had written to him (1 Cor 7:1; cf. the “Now concerning” markers in 7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; and 16:1).

      If you’re interested in thinking through this further, you might enjoy this post from John MacArthur on the Grace to You blog. Hope that’s helpful to you.

      • brad

        What verses in the Bible say that the supernatural gifts will cease with the closing of the canon?

        That seems like the crux of the debate. Agree?

        • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

          It depends on what you mean by your question, Brad. If you’re asking me to point to a verse in the Bible that says, explicitly, “the miraculous gifts will cease with the closing of the canon,” then no, that’s not the crux of the debate, because Scripture can teach things that are not explicitly stated in any one verse, but are deduced by “good and necessary consequence,” as the confession states. If that’s how you meant your question, I immediately think of asking, “What verses in the Bible say that Christ is of the same substance (homoousios) with the Father?” or “What verses in the Bible say that Christ has two natures (phusis) united in His one person (hupostasis)?” or “What verses in the Bible say that God is one Being that eternally exists in three co-equal and consubstantial Persons?”

          The point is: just as with these doctrines of the deity of Christ, the hypostatic union, and the Trinity, the doctrine of cessationism a multi-faceted argument, which takes into account what Scripture teaches about the particular nature and specific purposes of the gifts, as well as what it teaches about the timing of their passing away.

          So if you mean, “What verses in the Bible, taken together and whose implications, when considered and wrestled through honestly, teach the child of God that the miraculous gifts ceased at the closing of the Apostolic age?” then I would point you to the numerous posts we’ve done in the past that substantiate that claim (see them culled here, here, and here).

          Now, in the context of the explanations given in all of those posts, I would say that Ephesians 2:20 is a single text whose implications, when considered in the light of all of Scripture and when wrestled through carefully and honestly, I believe carry the day for the cessationist position. To speak of a foundation upon which the church is built is to posit a “foundational” period and a “post-foundational” period in the life of the church. To say that the apostles and prophets are that foundation is to say that their revelatory ministries functioned during that foundational period of the church. When the foundation is laid — when the Lord provided the fullness of His revelation through their ministry and then preserved it in the written Word — then the building rests upon that foundation; you do not continue laying the foundation at every stage of building. So, if the apostles and prophets (and particularly, the revelation which they bore) are the foundation of the church, then the close of that foundational period means the end of the apostolic and prophetic ministry. Their revelatory ministry gave way to the fullness and completeness of God’s revelation as codified in the written Word, the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. This revelation is completely sufficient (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:3-4), and fulfills the purpose in the church for which those other forms of revelation were given.

          • Brad

            Hey Mike!

            I think it is the crux of the issue because the average Christian who just reads the Bible probably thinks that the supernatural gifts are still in existence – it is very easy for continuationists to point to a passage and teach the literal/surface meaning of the words. In other words, the continuationist just has to open the Bible to 1 Corinthians 12-14 and say, “read.”

            I was looking for a few verses to “hang” the cessationist argument on. That helped me with doctrines like the nature of Christ and the Trinity, but it seems much more difficult to do with cessationism. But I’ll start with Ephesians 2:20!

            Take care and thanks for your thoughtful response!
            Brad

          • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

            …because the average Christian who just reads the Bible probably thinks that the supernatural gifts are still in existence.

            Well, first, the “average Christian who just read the Bible” throughout the first 19 centuries of church history didn’t think the supernatural gifts were still in existence. So, you’ve got that working against your argument.

            Second, even if that was true, you’d have to explain why a good measure of the legitimacy of a doctrine is whether the “average Christian” believes it or not. Some of what Scripture teaches requires the kind of dedicated study that, unfortunately, “average Christians” have been all too unwilling to undertake. They think that unless every spiritual truth that God intends for us to know is immediately perceptible with very little serious and disciplined thinking, it must be overrun with human reason and therefore unbiblical. So I don’t think that’s a great measure. Besides this, couldn’t a Jehovah’s Witness or a Muslim say, “The average person who just reads the Bible can see that you either have 3 gods (Father, Son, Spirit) or that Jesus isn’t God”?

            Further, there’s a difference between a “literal” or “surface” meaning and a shallow reading of the text. I think continuationists who make the argument you’re making are doing the latter, because they’re not considering the context of Scripture.

            There are a couple of things to add to that last point as well. An approach that would be just as shallow as saying, “Look, the gifts are in 1 Cor 12-14, so they’re for today!” would be pointing to the sacrificial laws in Leviticus and saying, “Look, we need to slaughter bulls and goats!” Now, you’d say, well then I could point them to passages in the NT that show that that’s not to be done anymore. But then you’d be doing exactly what I’m asking the continuationists to do in the discussions about the gifts: consider what the whole of Scripture says about the nature, purpose, and timing of the miraculous gifts, and, based on the entirety of Scripture’s teaching, come to proper theological conclusions. Also, it’s that kind of shallow reading that people employ when they insist that head coverings must be for today, or when others insist that we must greet one another with a holy kiss (both commands are in the NT!). We can point to those passages and say, “Read,” but that doesn’t mean that those practices are to be applied today in precisely the same way they were applied in the first century.

            I was looking for a few verses to “hang” the cessationist argument on. That helped me with doctrines like the nature of Christ and the Trinity, but it seems much more difficult to do with cessationism. But I’ll start with Ephesians 2:20!

            I’m glad to hear this. As you study this issue, I would really recommend the 10th chapter of Sinclair Ferguson’s book, The Holy Spirit, Sam Waldron’s, To Be Continued?, and Thomas Edgar’s, Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit, as valuable helps. They do a great job of taking all of the biblical data into account, and distilling it to a place where it’s understandable.

            Thanks Brad.

          • brad

            Thanks Brother!

          • Reuben

            Thanks, Mike! With your reference to head coverings and greeting with a holy kiss, you answered my follow up question before I had the opportunity to ask. I completely spaced those two instances of something in the NT that we don’t necessarily follow today.

          • Eric Davis

            Brad-

            I could not improve upon what Mike has said to you. Let me simply encourage you in your study of the place and purpose of the spiritual gifts to do your best to first understand God’s redemptive plan of salvation. In other words, study the big picture of what God has been doing from eternity past to eternity future as revealed in Scripture. As you do, whether the cessation of apostolic gifts or the doctrines of grace or eschatology, you will be better positioned to understand, as Mike said, the nature, timing, and purpose of those important issues.

            And don’t give up easily. I think it was Tozer who once said, “No verse of Scripture yields its meaning to a
            lazy people.” We are called to labor as a workman before God to accurately understand Scripture (2 Tim 2:15). May God bless you in that.

          • brad

            I appreciate the encouragement!

  • smedly

    Serious skiing and responsible shepherding in one blog post? too good…..

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks Smedly

  • Pingback: Understanding the Times and Knowing What the Church Should Do | Truth2Freedom's Blog

  • tovlogos

    Greetings brother Eric,
    As a rule, I agree with the content of your post. However, there are many exceptions — not in defiance of Scripture. There are a few men who have not, for one reason or another, found themselves lined up with the protocol necessary to be “legitimate” by the standards you addressed. On the other hand there are ministers who have met all standards perfectly; yet cannot adequately exegete a topic. It is also evident that many ministers show no engagement, or awareness of the need to abide in the Spirit. When I think of abiding in the Spirit I thing of regular thorough
    Scriptural study; praying always; recognizing the love of 1 Corinthians 13; and being honest about the results of practical application.
    The ultimate seminary is the one the apostles experienced through our Lord. The Spirit still works today. I would rather see and hear what a ministerial candidate has to say, than dismiss him due to a lack of pedigree.
    When I look at what the church has become in these last days; and how compromised it has become can only be reckoned by the fact that the Spirit has few temples in which to operate.

    Mark

    • Eric Davis

      Brother Mark-

      Thank you for your comment. First, I would take issue w/ this quote: there are ministers who have met all standards perfectly; yet cannot adequately exegete a topic.

      If I understood you, I think your statement is somewhat in contradictory. If a minister has met leadership standards perfectly (as defined by Scripture) then he will necessarily be competent to accurately handle the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). A minister who cannot “exegete a topic” is like a surgeon who cannot do surgery. It makes no sense. He is not a surgeon. So, if a guy found his way into leadership yet cannot exegete Scripture, then it was not the Holy Spirit who qualified him for the task, and, therefore, he is not qualified at that point.

      And I agree w/ you about the great importance of ministers to be walking by the Spirit and filled w/ the Spirit. That is as critical as an engine and gasoline are to a vehicle’s movement. And, as you rightly said, abiding in the Spirit means being full of the word (Col 3:16), manifesting the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), putting sin to death by the Spirit (Rom 8:13), and the like. May God endow us mightily w/ all the resources we need by his Spirit for the sacred and daunting task of disciple-making. Thanks Mark

      • tovlogos

        Absolutely brother — Yes there are contradictions in the body, not due to anything our Lord has done, of course. A minister said to me that there is no chance of being saved without full immersion water baptism (stuck on a Mosaic merry-go-round); yet I wanted to know what happened to all those sincere, obviously spirit filled people who lived before the 17th century. So I believe a person can meet the protocol of the minister and be form without spiritual function. I believe as you do — the Holy Spirit has to be the One doing the calling. Among the many ways to categorize the Scriptures, I see the OT as the legal system in action; the transitional period of Our Lord’s ministry; and the freely available spirituality of the New Covenant — without which there is no chance of knowing God’s mind (1 Cor. 2:10–13)
        Not everyone is like unto those at Cripplegate. I appreciate your response. Thanks Eric.

        • Eric Davis

          Thanks again for your comments, Mark. May the Lord bless you and your ministry.

  • Pingback: Round Up | Rated R For Reformed

  • Pingback: The Saturday Post(s) | A Pilgrim's Friend