The True Extent of Pastoral “Authority,” Part 2

In a previous post, under the same title, Lambs's Harbinger examined the New Testament in order to determine whether pastors (elders / overseers) have "authority" over other believers in the organizational sense of the term, let alone in the spiritual sense. The answer is no for both. The Word is the true authority. The pastor is the one who must impart it accurately and faithfully.

Rather than pastors being hierarchical CEOs of churches, they have a charge to keep. It is a calling (responsibility; leadership by influencing example & service) and a gifting (always including teaching) by God to "look out for" the growth, health and maturity of each believer. This "looking out for" role serves the goal that individual members of the Body learn for themselves how to consistently hear and obey God Himself. A pastor should lead people by prayer, by teaching the Word and by example to develop their own, direct and vibrant interactive relationship with God. That is quite a difference from the man inserting himself between the believer and God through insistence on authority structure or fostering co-dependence. "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," (1 Timothy 2:5).

THE MYTH OF AUTHORITY IN CHURCH DISCIPLINE

While pastors are charged by God to give reasonable answers to attackers of Christianity; and while they also must bring attention to and rebuke those who spread false teaching or cause divisions, …in Matthew 18, Jesus never authorizes an elder (pastor) to remove someone from church membership. Rather, the unrepentant person must be brought before the church.

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

THE ELDERS & THE YOUNGER

But, what about the authority of older pastors over younger pastors? There should be mutual respect and honor reflected in these roles. The Apostle Peter puts it this way: (1 Peter 5:1-5 ESV)

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

In this passage we can notice 3 terms of designation. There are general statements to all pastors but mainly the older ones—elders. Then, we can also see Peter differentiates between "the flock of God" and the "younger."

Here are the statements to the older pastors (elders) in verses 1-5:

  • Shepherd the flock by exercising the role of "looking out for" [overseeing] them. (Again, not a CEO hierarchical or managerial, director position)
  • Don't do this because you are compelled: ex. because a title or "position" socially demands it… or because someone (or your own shame) pressures you. Rather, do it AS GOD LEADS / WILL HAVE YOU and you are eager. (i.e. May not be permanent; may need breaks in seasons of life, etc.)
  • DON'T DO IT FOR PAY!! (The greatest compulsion)
  • Don't domineer God's people but instead lead them by example!! (Quite impossible to do in a sterile, organizational setting). [IMPLIED: Be subject to the Chief Shepherd, Who will give a Crown of Life]

These mandates quite disqualify most pastors / elders these days. Do they not?

Then, in the last part of verse 5, the Apostle Peter shifts to addressing the "younger," which could be anyone in the flock; but since Peter referred to the "flock" earlier, the term "younger" most likely defines younger ministers by comparison to the aged ministers (ex. as Timothy & Titus to Paul, cf. 1 Timothy 4:12).

The young ministers are commanded to show respect and submission to the older ministers (the elders), recognizing that God's Hand is at work… especially in situations where (implied) there is ongoing lording and domineering and ministering under compulsion (esp. for money). In fact, verses 6-11 are clearly aimed at all ministers (the brotherhood, v.9) but bear special overtones toward the younger minister.

ALL MINISTERS CLOTHED IN HUMILITY

These matters being noted, the last half of verse 5 (of 1 Peter 5) commands all "under-shepherds" (older and younger) to be humble toward each other.

If the older ministers have not disqualified themselves by being domineering and lording, or by doing ministry under compulsion (especially for pay), then they—like the younger—must give great attention to humility. This is nothing other than mutual honor and respect, due to recognizing that Jesus is the Great Shepherd above all and in all. The elder and younger are equals, not "lord to subservient." As Paul charged Timothy, "Let no one despise your being young, but be an example…" (1 Timothy 4:12).

The whole relationship, whether ministers to "laity" or between fellow ministers is not stated better than by Paul elsewhere, Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

The True Extent of Pastoral “Authority,” Part 1

What authority, if any, does God grant a pastor over people? The short answer is “NONE in the position or the man himself.” 

Hebrews 13:17 King James Version (KJV) does read:

17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

BUT, this is a stodgy translation manufactured inside of an Anglican Monarchy. The Anglicans are simply an English duplicate of Rome. In this verse, “to submit” is not to place one’s self in subjugation, as in militaristic rank, but rather “to willingly follow by consent.” The definition of “rule over” is NOT “to domineer” nor even “to direct.” Rather, to oversee is properly understood as “watch like a shepherd tending a flock of sheep.” As Bill Mounce so accurately points out, overseer (episkopos) refers to the assignment or leadership role (by service & example, Mark 9:35, 10:34) placed upon the man by God via calling and subsequent gifting, not to an administrative position. [Reference Acts 1:20 wherein Peter says of Judas, “May another take his place of leadership” (https://billmounce.com/monday-with-mounce/overseer-or-office-overseer”-1-tim-3-1)%5D.

What Hebrews 13 states by using the word “obey” is not what many pastors assume it to mean. The term really means “to willingly follow, due to being convinced.” Convinced of what? Well, that brings up Acts, chapter 6. The duties of those who oversee the flock of God are:

  1. Prayer
  2. Ministry of the Word

Believers should be convinced that a pastor’s ministry of the Word is accurate to the Word. The pastor’s only authority—if we call it that— comes from showing what the Word says. The Word is the real authority. He must be able and ready to teach it. He is to be a workman that is unashamed, because by thorough and diligent and prayerful study, he rightly parses (interprets, teaches) the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15) in all of its contexts. If people are not convinced his teachings are clearly from the Word (without mixture), then he is not to be followed; and he cannot demand to be followed. In fact, he ought to be ashamed, if people find his teachings to be erroneous or his concept of “his” authority abusive. Indeed there are many “clergy,” who lord over the flock, against God’s command never to do so (1 Peter 5). They are hireling shepherds (John 10) of a cultish following.

So many pastors—the great majority, I fear—cling to Romish and Anglican “organizational authority,” and that is never the biblical concept. Let’s be absolutely clear and call organizational authority by its real name: hierarchy. If a pastor assumes hierarchical authority, then he is a “professional minister” and the whole cultish cycle is perpetuated. No where in the Bible does God grant pastors/elders power over the congregants or staff, let alone to have staff. These are man-made positions. God designed His Church to work via the gifts and empowering of the Spirit. So few recognize the gifts and the Spirit, Who empowers and directs them all.

“But what about the coordination components of ‘ministry?'” My opponents will ask. “Someone has to decide when to start the service”…. Really?  This type of work is administration, and there is a gift for that, as found in Romans 12. Pastors don’t have to have that gift. In fact, there is room to say the Bible never puts administrators and pastors in the same lump. It rather always places the gift of teaching with the gift of pastor.

The ONLY thing a pastor is gifted to do is lead (i.e. Influence) people to maturity in their own relationship with God, to learn from him how to follow the leadership of the Spirit and not be co-dependent on a man… which is the recipe for lording^! The pastor’s role and responsibility are done by example and by prayer and by teaching/applying the Word (declaring what God has plainly written as the objective braces for living a subjective relationship with Him), until the words of Jesus and the works of Jesus are heard & seen in each individual believer…and, in turn, the Body, EACH PART supplying what the others need (Ephesians 4). Leading people to Christian maturity (direct, consistent interaction with God Himself) includes restoring the failing in their faith, hope & love… as there are many threats to believers from the world, flesh and forces of evil. 

The calling is also a protective role in addition to a nurturing and restorative one. Pastors guard against false doctrine and are ready to give an answer to those attacking the essential tenets of biblical Christianity (Ephesians 4; Titus 1:9). They mark out and rebuke those that cause division through exerting the spirit of Diotrephes (3 John vv. 9-11), through false teaching, through contentiousness and/or by forming fleshly cliques (Titus 3:10; 1 Corinthians 3; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:14). They are supposed to be the “spiritual” ones who meekly care enough to patiently restore (with compassion, encouragement & sound teaching) the one who is stuck and overburdened spiritually (Galatians 6; James 5), even if that person is distracted to the point of self-contradiction and self-destructive behaviors (2 Timothy 2:25). They also warn the flock of spiritual pitfalls that will sidetrack, hinder or stunt the believer’s direct relationship with God. But mostly, they show from the Book and from their lives “How to” grow up into a likeness of Jesus and utilize their gifts under the Spirit’s direction for edifying the Body and for obeying the prompting of the Spirit out in the world, in the “work of the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:11-21; Ephesians 4).

So, there we have it: oversight of the flock is a nurturing, protective and restorative calling that God gifts and empowers a man to do, so that the members of the Body of Christ are served on the individual level, until the flock is reaching maturity in their own relationship with Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less. None of the aspects of the Pastoral gift require organizational or managerial or director “authority.” And yes, pastors and elders must give an account to God for following this calling (Hebrews 14). So, if they are faithful and accurate in ministering the Word, then they should be given much weight (lit. “double regard / honor,” not a paycheck) in our hearts and minds for their teachings (1 Timothy 5:17).* But, their teachings should always be held against the backdrop of “searching the scriptures daily to see if these things are so” (Acts 17:11). [Christians must exercise their Bible literacy and believer’s priesthood, instead of relying on someone to spoon feed them.]

The work admittedly can be done only very rarely (if ever) on the corporate level. By biblical pattern there are to be many pastors/elders in one local body (Acts 6, 20; 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). This fact determines a high pastor/elder to congregant ratio—a plurality or presbytery, not a monarchy or dictatorship. This disturbs most pastors, who have long mistaken the role of pastor as an administrative hierarchy, managerial or organizational director position. Yet, the meager, control-oriented power hoarding of lording is laughable to those who trust the all-powerful, all-seeing Spirit in correcting the 10/90 problem. Very few pastors will like to relinquish their unbiblical power for the genuine calling to be truly pastoral on the personal level.

Whatever others decide, it is time to cut off the false heads and shed the Romish & Anglican trappings on our Faith!

See Part 2

____________________

*in the passage 1 Timothy 5:17, “directing the affairs of the church faithfully” Darby presents the best translation: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Timothy%205:16-18&version=DARBY

17 Let the elders who take the lead [among the saints] well be esteemed worthy of double honour, specially those labouring in word and teaching;

Here, “taking the lead” is the same as “be an example to the church.” They lead by example. They do not “direct the affairs of the church” and get paid for it as some horrible translations reflect. Also, herein, the muzzling of the Ox treading the corn is illustrative analogy. It shows the principle that you honor the beast of burden that feeds you… even so, those who labor to study the Word, in order to impart it as food for the hearers, should be given high regard (analogous to corn) for the one that labors (i.e. The pastor/elder). So, just as one does not starve his corn-grinding ox, which would end badly for both man and beast; even so, learners should not disrespect or lightly regard the teachings of a pastor’s labor intensive study. They should be given weighty regard in our minds and hearts. Otherwise, it will end badly for all.

^Here is a quote that will further show what I mean:

“The problem comes when this “pastoral authority” is taken into the spiritual realm. This is a great problem. I’m not sure the terminology of “pastoral authority” is a wise terminology, …. This overreach is often cultic. It sets up the pastor to manipulate because he supposedly speaks in the name of spiritual authority. But a man claiming spiritual authority over others is biblically wrong, because “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). Spiritual authority belongs to the Spirit of Jesus—alone. There is no priesthood of the believer if a pastor possesses spiritual authority.” –John Van Gelderen

Reforming the Professional Ministry Paradigm

Followers of Lamb’s Haringer will recall many posts over the last 2-3 years, which call for a reformation of pastoral, professional ministry. For too long, American Christianity has followed the model set forward by Europe and Rome concerning professional clergy… a thing Jesus and the Apostles never demonstrated. The error has led to:

  • Denominations, Bible colleges and universities as centers of spiritual authority and sociopolitical influence above the local church
  • A resultant looking to credentials & experience as the determining factor in choosing church leadership, rather than emotional, relational & spiritual maturity.
  • Lording over God’s heritage
  • A consumerism in church-goers and  marketing (branding & traffic creation / maintenance) by leaders.
  • A dearth of spiritually mature Christians from quenching and grieving the Spirit (the One who directs and empowers His gifts to the Church)
  • A love/service of money &/ or notariety (power/influence) among “men of God.”

I merely call for a reformation of that corrupt model in exchange for the biblical one, as is detailed in the posts below:

The 5 Step Solution for the 10/90 Problem

Book Recommendation: “Great Evangelical Recession”

The Other Master

The True Extent of Pastoral Authority

The Greatest Sin in the Church: Lording

5 Warning Signs of a Controlling Pastor

On Meddling & Professional Ministry

Uncovering and Facing Spiritual Abuse

Abuse and Authority Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse, Parts 1 & 2

R.A.R.E. Leadership

Machetes, Enough and a Free Gospel

12 Clearly Stated Facts on Biblical Church Leadership

Diagram of Biblical Church Leadership Roles

Spiritual Gifts: Discovering which Part of Christ’s Body God made You [Presentation]

The Scary Word: Give

A Portrait of the Church

What Really is the Church?

The Book of Micah (See esp. Part 2)

Free Pastoral Review Survey

The 5 Step Solution for the 10/90 Problem

10% of the people do 90% of the ministry work

Whether it is an accurate statistic, it is one commonly expressed among all Christian sects. The Church has a motivation problem, so its leaders think. And, those 10% who do align with the “vision” of leaders often get “burned out” or “put out” by ungodly expectations. 

The leaders themselves are under extreme pressures by congregants…. to be, say or do what is expected at all times. Many of those expectations are beyond the biblical mandate for the role of pastor, (Ex: pastoral visits, when Deacons should care for the sick and needy until the elders are called by the sick for anointed healing). They also perhaps feel controlled by their being “employees” of a church governance, instead of being undershepherds, meant to care for the flock, as the Spirit leads and empowers their gift. Then, clergy often see themselves in a constant struggle and exhausting drudge to make their churches into effective disciple factories. “People just won’t hear sound doctrine anymore,” some say. Others who are frustrated to make disciples rely on the phrase, “It’s just hard here.” 

All of these lines of church sub-culture are interconnected, and there is a 5-Step Solution which will take some courage and time and talking to implement. But, the result will be worth it!

1. CLERGY WORK/PAY: We need more ministers like the apostle Paul, who can say, “You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.” (Acts 20:34)

The Pastors / Elders / Ministers will not take a salary or any regular pay. Doing so would eliminate being a “professional minister” for filthy lucre’s sake. They will obtain a skilled trade or profession like their congregants, or (if you wish) like Jesus and His Apostles, who wanted everyone to know the Gospel is free (1 Corinthians 9:12, 15-18). Clergy will receive circumstantial and need-based gifts from collections to make up anything they may need, including study resources, retreat times and conferencing. Deacons / Deaconness will make sure clergy have what is necessary, just as they should be doing for everyone in the congregation. [A “transition package” might be arranged for leaders who will find a transition into “secular work” challenging, due to academic degrees or marketable skills limitations.]

Use the funds to pay off church debt. Or, meet the needs of the congregation (ex. pay fees for professional Christian counseling or drug rehab or financial management programs). Remember the poor, disaster stricken, orphaned and widowed, as well as missions / church planting efforts. Or, use the funds to hire multi-media useful for multi-site church and/or internet, radio and TV broadcasting. Be missional!

2. CLERGY FOCUS ON PRAYER & MINISTERING THE WORD [and passing the Apostles’ doctrine (NT letters) on to those who are teachers]: The Pastors / Elders / Ministers will cease from occupational administration, vision casting, initiative creating, “ministry opportunity” development, or crowd-attracting / maintaining hype. This kind of busy work replaces the genuine ministry of the Holy Spirit throughout the individual parts of the Body. 

Instead, serve / feed the Sheep by praying for & equipping the saints to know and interpret the Word for themselves… to build up the parts of the Body to have direct and vibrant and maturing relationships with God for themselves, so that the words and works of Jesus are being consistently produced in and through them; & so that they are not tossed about by false doctrines. [This will include instruction on essentials of the historical, biblicist Christian faith & apologetics.] Remember to empathetically and compassionately and meekly restore the failing, gently instructing those who oppose themselves. This is the true work of pastors and of all who are spiritually mature.

When preaching is being done, also teach exegesis/elements of interpretation and how to personally apply the exegesis. This cannot be done without teaching / preaching though entire books (including the context provided by  biblical theology), as well as topics. 

Devise a plan on how to train both teens and adults on whole Bible interpretation and Christian apologetics over the span of 3-5 years. Work the plan continually and repeatedly. There are so many excellent resources in these regards, one is sure to feel no overwhelm in accomplishing the task.

3. CLERGY EMPHASIZE THE PRIESTHOOD OF EACH BELIVER, SOUL LIBERTY & THE PERSON and MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: Instead of clergy inadvertently or wittingly placing one’s self as a lord over God’s heritage, emphasize there is One Lord, and that, He is IN all (believers) and over all believers, including the “pastors.” The Spirit should be followed above men, because He is Lord and empowers and directs each part of the Body, as He wills. 

This will necessitate that we learn to view each other according to our spiritual giftings and how they function! 

It will also demand of pastors that they learn the Scriptures show always more than one man gifted as an elder or leader (ex. Missionary / apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor/Teacher) in any one church. So many churches use the atrocious and unbiblical “one pastor” model… which is seemingly always added upon the tendency to: 

  • Throw all spiritual (and administrative / coordinating) responsibilities on the pastor.
  • Not view believers according to their gifts and how those operate in/by the Spirit. It should be that the pastor(s) are aware of the gifts in their church, knowing the Spirit will work in and through them to help lead the congregation toward maturity in their relationship with God. Church leaders must learn to bow to the Holy Spirit functioning in other leaders and in all believers. We must kill the spirit of Diotrephes.

Therefore, teach and exemplify:

  1. The New Creature in Christ Identity, being  joined to the Lord as one Spirit. Conversely, expose the “old man” (the flesh), the world and the satanic forces of evil as the enemy of one’s identity in Christ.
  2. What it is to hear from the Spirit of God, in accordance to the Word. More importantly, instruct and show what it is to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit in relationships, attitudes, actions and life choices. 

Explain and reinforce that the Holy Spirit directs us ALL to do the work of the ministry, both inside and outside the church. 

Inside the church, and no matter what gifting we possess, we edify one another in love at the prompting of the Spirit [not via officially organized, transactional & sterile ministry departments], and seek to honor one another genuinely, considering all others better (and worthy of more honor) than ourselves. We encourage one another to become more like Jesus. This takes time to build trusting relationships that are communication rich. Again, this cannot be done without teaching properly on spiritual gifts and their function. 

Outside the church, we show the works [acts of faith, love & mercy] and graciously speak the words [the Good News, 4 Gospels’ passages] of Jesus, so that wherever we have been called, there we are the Lord’s person… out in the world, where the real Ministry of Reconciliation is done. 

Devise a plan on how to train/encourage teens and adults over the span of 3-5 years on realizing and exercising their spiritual gift(s), as well as sharing/explaining the Gospel accounts of Jesus… and (like Jesus) living a life full of humble, just & merciful deeds as the Spirit leads. Work the plan continually and repeatedly.

4.  WORSHIP & PRAY^ TOGETHER (to be multiplied): So little corporate prayer is practiced in churches. Pray to learn/combat spiritual warfare in repentant intercession, for the Good News to have free course, for deliverances and healings (physical, emotional, spiritual), for anointings, for outpourings, for the biblical unity in essential truth of the Body of Jesus, for those in authority, for blessings on enemies, etc. 

Seek (as a result of prayer) to be reproducing churches as rapidly as healthy and mature Christians are readied.

^Worship is to come into alignment with our Head, Jesus. Prayer is to access the blessings of that Authority.

5. SHUT DOWN ALL “OFFICIAL MINISTRIES” NOT EXPRESSLY DOING #2, #3 & #4: They are superfluous, especially those dead ministries (held onto due to tradition), or those instituted by leadership & insisting on “cookie-cutter” Christianity or “brand specific” (non-essential, denominational) traditions and/or cumbersome, detailed teachings beyond the scope of Scripture; for examples, diet, personal finance and wealth management, medical advices, exercise and health, the “look” or style of home/family life, specifics on child rearing, etc. Instead, encourage each believer to know/interpret/apply the Word and function/operate in the influence of the Spirit both inside and outside the Church, as well as at home… and in all matters. 

If teachings and prophecies arise from within the Body, let the Pastors / Elders / Ministers recommend the teachings or prophecies, and let them correct errors ONLY when serious, essential-doctrine errors are present, so as not to hinder the Spirit. Warn against cliquish followings after this or that teacher/minister.

Mercy Wins When Abusive Church Leaders Threaten

“For He is Good; For His Loving Mercy Endures Forever.” 2 Chronicles 5:13-14

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Beware those who seek God’s power, instead of transformation into the likeness of Jesus Himself.

Abusive church leaders use abusive “teaching” to explain why God has not yet sent revival power/blessing. It is equivalent to spiritual blackmail. The church members correctly believe revival blessing can be poured out on them, but the leaders also believe that they (the people) somehow have forfeited revival blessing by certain disobediences as a body or by certain slacking in “rising in faith-filled obedience” to the “faith step” which the leaders say God set for them as a body. This is dangerous, because it is meritoriously working for revival power/blessing.

Also, great tension occurs between the leadership and the people when the leadership—like some divine oracle—says, “This is the faith step we must take…God cannot bless if this is missing from our hearts as a congregation.” Why? It is meritorious thinking. When the body takes that step sincerely (such as sacrificially giving themselves of time, money, resources, energies – or – giving up certain right pleasures or expressions of personality) they believe sincerely that they have done something, which will make God pleased with them to the point that “hindrances to revival blessing are removed.” Then, they wonder why God is not blessing, and the striving goes deeper and deeper. Worse yet, they fear God will punish them. Soon, the Pastor(s) is subtly turning against his people for “not meeting the mark,” and the people are subtly doubtful of the Pastor’s leadership because of his “brow beating” them for their lack of faith….and they are weary from heavy burdens. One can never be sure if God is pleased. These are the results of abusive, meritorius religion.

In leading people toward revival, we must not make any subtle or overt emphasis of having our music just right, and then, God will bless us with revival as opposed to those whom He won’t. We must not say that God cannot bless us with revival blessing, if we do not have faith promise missions or a ritualized “hour of prayer.” We must not make the issue our having the minutest of doctrine correct as opposed to those who don’t. We must not think that if we change our style, modes, and fashions to exude all manner of visible, outward “holiness” that God will bless us and not those who differ. 

God does not promise revival blessing because we have this or that “right.” Neither does He withhold revival blessing from those who do not. [The only time God promises to bless separation is when we separate ourselves from worshipping and serving together with heathen in the ways they worship and serve. (2 Cor. 6:17)] Rather, God shows mercy on whom He will show mercy, and that means only on those who count His mercy THE thing to be had… who “love mercy.”

Also, let’s be careful about teaching people what we mean by “purity” in the churches. Do we mean, “every person in the congregation has no sin issues?” Is that what we believe revival is… the absence of sin? Is that rational? Do we think that glorification can happen this side of eternity? Or yet, do we mean, “no outward trace that our members were once lost men, even though they might have been newly saved”? In the same vein, everyone knows that God must turn His face away from those children have given themselves over to wickedness. But, those prodigal brothers just may be revived before those who look down upon them.

In conclusion, let’s not strain at gnats and swallow camels. We don’t need to wonder why God’s blessing is not upon us as persons or as a movement, when so much spiritual pride and meritorious thinking saturates our hearts. We should turn away from the carnal comparisons and circles and camps and labeling. Dear one’s, let’s realign ourselves with Christ’s agenda – 

  • PRAISE Him and bask in His mercy! 
  • Get His Good News of MERCY to every soul. 

By now, we all know that we cannot earn the power of His saving influence for ourselves or for our churches or for our movements. God will not grant His likeness on us, until we are looking for His mercy… until we see ourselves utterly in need of His mercy and do Him sacrifice – the sacrifice of the lips – a thankful heart for His goodness, for His loving mercy which endures forever.

Whenever God comes down to pour out His Spirit, He does it because people have realized He alone is good. If His Presence is going to be known, then it shall only be because His mercy endures forever, not because our “holiness” finally met His “standard.” God does not see movements. He sees men – humble men & women, who hope only in His mercy as their happiness in service and sense of success. Only these men know what a freeing and glad thing it is to shout the message of mercy loud and clear, so all the world may hear it. God is not withholding blessing from us or waiting for us to earn it. He wants us to be ready to receive all that He has. He counts us as not ready until we, like Solomon and the people of Israel, make our theme song, “For the LORD is good; for his mercy endures forever.”