Jackson Precincts

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Pastor or priest?

“…you know that those who perform the temple service eat the temple offerings and those who wait upon the altar claim their share of the sacrifice…the LORD gave instructions that those who preach the Gospel should earn their living by the Gospel.”    I Corinthians 9:12-14 New English Bible

Ministers in the New Testament are often referred to as elders, deacons, bishops, or ‘fellow-workers’. Pastors developed into modern professionals. The custom of the Protestant and orthodox churches is to employ a priesthood. However, we have no need for priests since we have a High Priest in a heavenly tabernacle. Professional preachers are installed when they demonstrate a ‘call of God’ and complete a seminary course. The office of priest was transferred from Judaism of the Second Temple. Our preachers have become priests when they really are simply leaders of congregations. The ministry of the president of the congregation has replaced the collective ministry of the church. One guy with an ungodly amount of pressure and responsibility instead of an assembly of distributed godly ministry.

“But you must not be called ‘rabbi’ for you have one Rabbi, and you are all brothers…” Matthew 23:8 New English Bible

Early church practice did not employ priests because leadership was plural. Apostles vetted elders; they were not trained in seminary. Deacons are  expected to be teachers, hospitable, and active. Deacons like elders are expected to be sacred models which is not the same as being a professional. Payment for teachers is encouraged, but caution is given to those seeking to enrich themselves by the ministry of the gospel. The salary of the pastor/teacher is not to establish a priestly guild. Professional leadership permits the gospel to be influenced by political beliefs and wealthy elders. Professional pastors slowly became a priestly guild like the P’rushim or temple class in Jesus’ time. This professional class was the principal adversary of Jesus. The physical church became the shrine of the priest who presided there. The traditions of men replaced the gospel purity. The teaching elder has become the professional priest along with a princely building and salary. The building and the professional salaries are the main budgetary items. In short the means have become the ends. God’s design with Christ as the Head of the church has been replaced by the tradition of men.

Seminaries attempt to do the work of the Master and the Spirit of Truth. Seminaries should not usurp the Master’s plan. Who vets the seminary professors? The rule is that they must be credentialed by another acceptable church authority —-not by Heavenly authority. No mention of seminaries in the Bible. Churches glorify themselves with complicated theology. A functioning church IS the seminary. So who is the Head of our seminaries? Do seminaries acknowledge the Headship of the Master in their organizational charts? Is the Risen Christ listed first in ‘What We Believe’? No, first are beliefs in regards to Holy scripture and next are trinitarian concepts. The core of the gospel is ‘Jesus was raised from the dead by God’. Why diminish the witness of Heaven? Churches have literature, affiliations, programs, budgets etc. that come down from earthly authorities. God glorified the Son. Why don’t we just say so? Christ should be first in all things since that is God’s witness for all earthly and all heavenly powers for all of time. “Jesus is Lord” is the churches’ theology. “Jesus have mercy” is our deliverance and the institution of all Heavenly resources towards the believer. Why can’t we simply state divine facts? All those that follow the Master have the light of life to guide them in a darkening world. (John 8:12)

The vocation of the each believer is mentioned in Eph 4:1-3—- “the prisoner of the Lord beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called with all lowliness and meekness…” In verse 12 the pastoral and teaching ministry of the church is given as the means to prepare the general membership for the collective ministry. The Ephesians 4:12 purpose of teaching is given as ‘the perfecting of the the saints for the work of the ministry’ not so that clergy will perfect their ministry. Is not the ‘nonprofessional call’ just as important as the professional calling? It seems the church teachers have taken up the rabbinic role that our Master performed. However, if a large church effectively prepares the general membership for the collective ministry, many teachers are required. The elders must become teachers and ministers like the pastor. Pastors, today, are administrators more than teachers of teachers. Deacons are rulers instead of models of Christ’s love. Deacons expect to be planners or employers not ‘serving tables’. Hear Philippians 2:15–“Do all things without grumbling or disputing that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (NASB). When Jesus is the Head of the church it is a learning and a light-giving church.

The New Testament epistles are addressed to the collective membership rather than to the leaders. However, the Revelation of St. John is addressed “to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass” and the specific prophecies to the Asian churches are addressed to the messenger of each respective assembly. The Risen Master has a special message for the teachers and preachers here and its a powerful warning in each case. Yet His warning and blessing and truth is for every hearer this side of heaven.

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The Mystical Body of Christ

DadsBirthdaychurch

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than to blood of Abel

Hebrews xii, 22-24 NIV

The Body of Christ is the most mystical theme in Christian cosmology. The Body of Christ is simply too metaphysical and majestic for regular  congregational contemplation. The Christian individual is not atomistic or supreme. The divine corporation is the lofty expression and illumination  of the nature of Christ and the elect. I doubt I have heard more than a couple of sermons in Baptist churches I have attended. The notion of a  Corporate Reality both inside and outside the local congregation must be too illogical for the practical American mind. The powerful symbol is the  unmentioned theme of John’s gospel account of the Last Supper, the foot washing, and the new commandment to love. John xiii, 35 “By this all men  will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”. The church maintains intersubjectivity and interrelatedness. The interchange within the church is spiritual not sociological.

The church has the immediacy and homespun analogy of the body. The body is for purposes of the Lord. The redeemed body, nonetheless, is sexual and perhaps too problematic for sermonizing. Ever heard a sermon on the “Song of Solomon”? The powerful symbol of the body is very much about ‘family values’ and the sexual nature in its unique theological meaning. One divine role for man and another one for woman. The social character of the Body of Christ is sexual in the sense of being productive and complimentary, but it is not legal. Sex roles are spelled out by St. Paul who also said “in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free”. The spiritual and life-giving service is the “mishpat” of Christ. The Church is then life-giving , as new converts attach to the Lord. The family has the father as the head and is a micro-church. The church has Christ as Head. A local church, however, is not the Body of Christ unless Christ is its Head and Authority and those within the congregation are His. Focus on the purposes of Jesus, not those of clergy or other secular or denominational authorities. Do not become slaves of men for we all have been purchased of Christ.

If the universal message of Christ does not shatter the human traditions and our religious non-profit corporations–then we are not versed in the read-lettered words of Jesus. The words of our Lord in regard to congregations speak of unity, authority, sufficiency, universality, and love. We have what we need if we hear the words of Jesus and obey Him. The unity of God with His people is the love story of the Bible. The fiery testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. One must receive the One sent. Christ is the Good Shepherd of His sheep. Christ gives the authority and gifts to build the spiritual unity of His people. The ultimate unity of the Risen Lord with the church is the Revelation and the Parousia. The last day will be a celebration for us.

Christ is not referred to as the Head of the local congregation if you peruse the founding documents of most churches. America has a church that is focused on personal, denominational, or patriotic aims. Our very words display a profound misunderstanding of the government of God. We have the approval of man but not God. Christ is King not preachers. Are we not in rebellion if we reject the way of God? The apostasy has trained expertise who distrust Him. The King anoints leaders His own way. Honor those He has honored with His heavenly Power and wisdom not those who have financial power. Chose men among you full of the Holy Spirit for those are anointed by Christ. Christ through the elders heals, corrects, feeds, washes and anoints the church. Christ is the Ground of all earthly and heavenly power . Give Him the honor that the Father has given Him. Come Lord Jesus.


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To the proud and worldly

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men…
For ye see your calling brethren
How that not many wise men after the flesh
Not may mighty, not many noble
Are called”
I Cor. 1:25-26

“Ye cannot serve God and mammon
And the Pharisees also who were covetous
Heard all these things and they derided him”
Luke 16:13-14

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”
Matt 6: 19-20

“For I say unto you that except your righteousness
Shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes
And Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter
Into the kingdom of heaven.”
Matt 5:20

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men
To be seen of them
Otherwise ye have no reward
Of your Father which is in heaven”
Matt 6:1

“Blessed are the poor in spirit
For theirs is the kingdom of God”
Matt 5:3

In our capitalistic society the rich own most of the land, income, and wealth -upwards of 80 percent. They only want more. Where do the followers of Jesus come down on the issues of justice and fairness in America? Good question. Paul confirms in his day ‘Not many mighty, wise, or noble are called to the kingdom of God’. The salt of the earth people fill the pews in American congregations. Most followers of Jesus are not masters, but servants. Many are called to the kingdom of God and are near the truth. The powerful are certainly attracted to the mercy of the Gospel yet they cannot get to the point of repentance and trust. Our culture allows glutton and mammon to rule our society. St. Peter and the Jerusalem leaders warn about the wearing of gold and the neglect of the poor as the gospel is carried to the Gentiles. The message of Jesus is a powerful political and social herald to the humble. When Jesus gave his first sermon in Nazareth he chose the 61st chapter of Isaiah,

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek…”