Know Your Bible

VOL. 8                           June 28, 2009                           NO. 23

                                           Are You The Pastor?


    Have you ever heard someone ask a preacher or perhaps asked one yourself, “Are you the pastor”? This is a simple question that might be heard almost anywhere on a Sunday in this area as well as many other places. The question is seemingly so innocent that hardly anyone would think there could be anything wrong with it yet while the question itself is not malicious, anyone who asks this question has a problem.

    Why, what problem you may ask? The problem is that anyone asking this question has a lack of knowledge which places their soul in jeopardy. Most people today are not aware of the Biblical use of the term “pastor”.

    The word “pastor” is used only one time in the New Testament, Eph. 4:11. It is listed along with the words, apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers. It is interesting that a word used only once has become almost the universal term for addressing ministers of any kind. The Greek word for pastor is “poimen” and means shepherd or pastor. The word shepherd is found 17 times in the New Testament. A pastor or shepherd is literally one who watches over a flock of sheep.

    The Bible uses this concept of caring for a flock to describe the position God has appointed as the spiritual leaders of His flock, the church. This position is referred to by several names in the New Testament but the office is always the same. It is called elders, overseers, bishops, presbyters, shepherds and pastors.

    The New Testament reveals that there were always a plurality of qualified elders (pastors) in a congregation and that the office of the elders did not oversee more than the one congregation where they assembled.

    What then were the qualifications of these men who were responsible for caring for God’s people. They are spelled out in two places, 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. These passages point out what one must be to hold this office. They include: husband of one wife, with believing children. Therefore, it is obvious that a pastor can be neither single, childless or female.
 Who then can be properly called a ”pastor” in accordance to Bible teaching? Those elders-bishops who are charged to shepherd (pastor) the flock of God. Those who meet all the qualifications spelled out by Paul in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, who watch over a congregation not alone but with at least one other who is also fully qualified.

    Be careful who you call “pastor”. If God does not recognize a person as a pastor then why should you? And, if you do while God does not, does that not put your soul under the guidance of someone unqualified to care for your most prized possession, your eternal soul. Think about it!

---Bryan Wallace


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How Do I Know What My Priorities Are?



    The young man who came to the Lord asking what good thing he should do to have eternal life probably would have said that spiritual concerns were his highest priority. But when he was told to sell what he had, give to the poor, and follow Jesus, "he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions" (Matt. 19:22). What he may have said about his values indicated one thing, His actions indicated another.

    When anyone asks what is most important to us, the tempting thing is to answer in terms of what we know should be most important. But the Lord does not judge what our priorities are by listening to our theories. He looks at our practice. And if we do not somehow gather our courage and look, as He does, at what means the most to us in actual fact -- and repent accordingly -- eternity holds no hope for us. Before it's too late to make any changes, we need to be asking ourselves some blunt questions about what our priorities really are.

What Would Others Say Our Priorities Are By Viewing Our Actions And Words? -- Others may not know us as well as we know ourselves, but they are often more objective about what they do know.  The neighbor who lives next door could probably sum up in a word of two what we are really about. Perhaps more than anybody, our children are able to cut through our preachments and tell what actually matters most to us in the rough and tumble of daily living.

What Do We Think About? -- Our true priorities are the things our minds are drawn to when they are "in neutral." When activities and obligations do not require us to be thinking about anything in particular, our thoughts are attracted, like things to a magnet, to our real enthusiasms. The person who finds that he meditates on God only when he forces himself to do so is lying if he says the spiritual life is his overriding concern.

What Do We Talk About Most? -- Is it God? The conversations we engage in arise quite naturally out of the things that are on our minds.  If we have to admit that we rarely talk about the Lord except in connection with the services of the church, that ought to tell us something. And even if we do sometimes talk about spiritual matters, if our acquaintances would have to say that our conversation gravitates more naturally and enthusiastically toward other things, then there is serious doubt whether our ultimate priorities are really spiritual.

How Do We Spend Our Time? -- Hardly anybody has as much "spare" time as he would like. But all of us have some, and the way we spend it displays our priorities. I have known families, for example, who "vacationed" by traveling to gospel meetings or Bible lectureships at congregations in distant states. Judging from their use of time that was theirs to do with as they pleased, one would tend to believe such folks if they said they loved the Lord more than anything else. On the other hand, I have known folks who all their working lives complained that they didn't have as much time as they wanted to do the Lord's work -- and then spent virtually all of their retirement years in personal leisure, with perhaps less time devoted to the Lord than before! The fact is, the way we spend our time speaks loudly regarding our values.

How Do We Spend Our Money? -- Suppose a Bible class teacher recommended a $50 reference book that would help us in our study of the Scriptures, but we said we couldn't afford it. Suppose a preacher recommended a $30 a year periodical that would help us grow spiritually, but we said it cost too much. If it was known that we sometimes spent that much on sporting events and recreational activities, that it wasn't unusual for us to spend that much in a single evening at a restaurant, that we couldn't object to spending that much on decorative home furnishings, etc., could anyone take seriously our claim that the Lord is our uppermost concern?

What "Gives" When We Face A Conflict Of Priorities? -- Of the many conflicts involving priorities, perhaps none are more annoying than "scheduling" conflicts. Unable to be two places at the same time, we very often have to sacrifice one activity for another. When that happens, if we subordinate the things of the Lord to worldly activities, we give the lie to our professed priorities. In the matter of sports, to take a familiar example, if we can manage it such that our softball league and the services of the church hardly every conflict, that is all well and good, but it says relatively little about our priorities. When the occasional conflict does arise, that is when we make a statement about our priorities.

    The same is true of work. If, on business trips, we've been willing to violate our commitment to assemble with brethren at our travel destination, we may try to make it look as if we chose between one thing that was "optional" and another that was not. But, in truth, we've simply demonstrated which of our various priorities we are willing to make the bigger sacrifice for. Indeed, it's when priorities collide that we learn the most about ourselves, our values, and whether the Lord reigns within us or not.

    How then do I know -- in all honesty -- what my priorities are? By looking at what I am, in fact, doing with my life. Paul wrote: "To whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness" (Rom. 6:16). Jesus said: "No one can serve two masters...You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24).

    Where my priorities are, there will my energy and enthusiasm be also! (Condensed for space.)         


---Gary Henry

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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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