Know Your Bible

VOL. 11                                                                                                                                                                                January 29, 2012                                                                                                                                                                                NO. 1


 What Is The Proper Way To Refer To A Preacher?



My denominational friends refer to their preacher as "Pastor" or "Reverend." What is the proper way to address the preacher, or how do you refer to him as you speak of him to others?


For me it is easy to answer what I call the preacher – I call him by his given name. He is not a 'pastor', so I don't refer to him in that way. Nor do I call him 'Reverend' for God is the only One who is called 'Reverend' in the Bible and I dare not give that title to a mere man.

It may seem odd to some when they hear you call the preacher by his first name. But why not? If Peter could refer to Paul as 'Paul,' and Paul could refer to Timothy as 'Timothy,' then why can't we use the same terminology when we speak to or of the person that preaches in the congregation of which we are members. I firmly believe that we can, and should. Now, if he happened to be a person that was several years older than myself, I would respectively refer to him as 'Brother __________'. This is done with respect to age, but not to put him on a pedestal in a spiritual way. We, as Christians, refer to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as ‘brother ______’, or ‘sister ______’.

With regard to the term "Pastor," as it is used in the Bible, it refers to a shepherd or elder of the flock, or church. A plurality of pastors, elders, or bishops are those men who meet certain qualifications as are given in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1. They then are appointed to oversee the congregation, especially in Spiritual matters. They can only oversee the congregation of which they are members and not several congregations.

The preacher is not to be referred to as "Pastor" "Reverend" nor "Father." In most cases the preacher is not one of the 'elders' in the congregation. And certainly, he is not in a position to be called "Reverend" because that term is only applied once in all of the Bible and then it refers to God.  And, one is not to be referred to as 'Father' in a religious sense according to Matthew 23:9.

Preachers are referred to as 'evangelists' in the Bible (Acts 21:8; II Timothy 4:5), because he brings the 'good news' (the gospel) to us. The preacher is also referred to as 'minister' which basically means 'servant' (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7). So, it is proper to refer to the preacher by these Scriptural terms. But the terms used to denote the preacher are never designed to "put him on a pedestal" above the other members of the congregation. A preacher's work is done under the oversight of the elders of the congregation for which he preaches. They are responsible to be sure that he preaches the truth as it is found in the Bible, the Word of God.            

---Clem Thurman

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Living With Hideous Monsters

A man visited a psychiatrist to talk about his dreams. "Every night," the man said, "I dream that these three hideous monsters are sitting on the edge of my bed, ready to attack me."

"Hmmm," said the doctor. "I feel sure I can cure you of this problem. But the treatment will cost you somewhere between twenty-five and thirty thousand dollars."

"Thirty thousand dollars!" the man gasped. "Never mind getting rid of the monsters, Doctor. I think I'll go home and try to make friends with them!"

Sadly, many have concluded that sin is not so ugly after all either. Instead of taking steps to rid themselves of the "hideous monsters" they try to take the "ugly" off. Our society has found a way to make sin easy to live with.

According to modern man, homosexuality is no longer an abomination (Leviticus 18:22,23) or degrading (Romans 1:24) but an "alternative" lifestyle. A homosexual is not perverted, he or she is "gay." If you believe that it is immoral and sinful to be "gay" you are labeled a "homophobe." You are the one with a "problem" and in need of help, not the sinner. To further make friends with the "hideous monster", now they want marriage to include same sex couples. This would "legalize" the sexual relationship and further remove the negative social stigma from the homosexual community.

Heterosexuals are demonstrating much the same attitude and have a desire to make sin appear less sinful. Living together has become socially acceptable. Couples proudly announce the upcoming birth of their baby with no thought of marriage. After all, it's only a "piece of paper." Actually, it is only another attempt to make sin easier to live with. Sex outside of marriage is still fornication or adultery! An ugly monster indeed.

Many other examples could be given of the world attempting to make friends of the "hideous monster" the Bible calls sin. Remember James' admonition in James 4:4; "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." May we all continue to stand with the Lord.                                                                      

---Ben May

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Those We Love

Our greatest desire for those we love should be that they be saved eternally. Paul said of his people: "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved" (Rom. 10:1).  He even said: "For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:3). With that kind of fervent desire, Paul lived in such a manner as to try to accomplish their salvation. He reasoned with them, he besought them, he tried to stir them up to a kind of jealousy that would move them to receive Christ in obedience and be saved (Rom. 11:14). His own manner of life was ever before them as an example of unpretended devotion to Christ. This sensible behavior, not only because it is essential to one's own salvation, but also because it is the proper way to convert others. It is an example that we should imitate.

Sometimes emotions can cause us to act irrationally regarding those we love. Sometimes we may pretend that all is well with their souls even though they are not obedient to God. Sometimes people quit serving the Lord aright because their obedience condemns the manner of life of someone they love. Such people don't consider that losing their own soul is not going to lead the lost to salvation. It is natural to want to be with those we love, but we cannot let immediate desires overcome the most important desire of all -- their salvation. It is far better to be estranged for a time in order to be with them eternally in heaven than to be with them in their lost condition now and to be together with them in eternal punishment. Do we not sometimes inflict pain of punishment and discipline upon our children in order to bring goodness and happiness to their lives? "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Heb. 12:11).

What can we do for those we love? We want to do them the greatest good that we can -- what is best for them. First, we can BE what WE ought to be in obedience to God, for without this, other efforts lose their strength. Then we can treat them with lovingkindness. We can talk to them about the Will of God and the importance of eternal things. We can encourage them to become children of God. We can help them to correct misconceptions concerning the Scriptures. If they stumble, we can help them to recover. If they go astray, we can turn them to the Lord again. If they stubbornly persist in wrongdoing, we can rebuke them firmly. If they continue to resist the truth, we can distance ourselves from them (have no company with them) to the end that they may be ashamed.  We can pray earnestly for them that they may see their error and turn again in repentance. If they repent, we can receive them again in brotherly love and rejoicing. We can keep company with them once again and work together and study together and pray together.  We can look forward together to the eternal hope of glory. We can worship God together, rejoicing in our mutual salvation as we place our hope and trust in God.

---Gilbert Alexander

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Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

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