Lord's Over God's Heritage
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock (1Peter 5:2-3).
It is sad today that there is a lack of true shepherds among God's people who are willing to feed the church with the whole council of God. Paul warned about these knowing that they would enter in from without, and arise from within, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:30).
To make their disciples, the teaching tactics they use is not so much by what they preach, but what they will not preach, so as not to offend the itching ears of their followers. Repentance is almost a forgotten doctrine. Warnings of sin, and hell, false teachers and deceivers are viewed as negative. Their mantra is judge not lest you be judged, even though Jesus (John 7:24) and His disciples (1Corinthians 2:15, 5:11-13, 6:1-6, 10:15, Philippians 1:9-10) commanded us to do so, and to do it without hypocrisy (Matthew 7:1-5).
This new evangelical philosophy can be exemplified today in what are known as the church growth movements that teach the unwary how to grow their church. Their methods involve a move away from doctrine and holiness and worldly separation and replace them with a more ecumenical, entertainment-orientated format (programs, concerts, plays, contemporary music, etc.). These organizations find that the recommended methods work very well and are thereby becoming some of the mega churches of the day. But sadly, in their humanistic approach, they fail to recognize the fact that Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it (Psalms 127:1).
Peter also says that those who would take the oversight should be willing recipients of the task but never take it by constraint . Unfortunately there are those who have entered in, and sought to take the oversight by force, through aggressive attitudes and subtle manipulations whereby they seek to frustrate the work of others. Some as we have seen in the Scriptures have their eyes on the monetary benefits that come with their desired position, but Peter commands that it be not taken for filthy lucre . The final end of these self-willed men is that they become lords over God's heritage .
They may come with the pretense to serve but have a lust for power and must be in control of every aspect of the church. They may appear to be very busy But all their works they do for to be seen of men (Matthew 23:5), having men's persons in admiration because of advantage (Jude 1:16). They seek as Nimrod, to make a name for themselves and receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only (John 5:44).
Many of these religionists Christ had to rebuke. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matthew 23:28). They love titles of men And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi (v. 7), or Elder, Pastor and Reverend. But Job said, I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away (Job 32:22).
Through their craft they usurp authority rather than receiving it for they love to have the preeminence. We find such a case in John's third epistle. He wrote to the church seeking to minister to them the Word of God but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church (3John 9-10).
Diotrephes, because of his love of supremacy received not the beloved John. This alone satisfied not his ego for neither would he receive other of the brethren, and those who would he forbid, casting them out too. This spirit of popery in various forms and degrees is sadly observed in much of Protestantism today.
John was the elder (v. 1) but Diotrephes in his belligerent attitude refused him and railed against him. This is absolutely unacceptable in the house of God. Paul says Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father (1 Timothy 5:1); them who are over you in the Lord esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake (1Thesalonians 5:12-13). Remember them Obey them Salute all 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 (Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24).
Countless souls are ensnared by the sleight of man and cunning craftiness (Ephesians 4:14), and are under the yoke of many a Diotrephes, being deceived by their great and swelling words. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18).
This form or religion has no place in the church, and those who walk in such a manner should be ashamed of their actions, and repent. Rather than exalting themselves, if they would seek to be great, they ought rather to follow the teachings of Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (Matthew 23:11-12).
Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:25-28).
Not only should we follow Christ's teachings, we should follow His example, who made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name (Philippians 2:7-9).
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich (2Corinthians 8:9).
The Lord Jesus Christ is our great example of humility, which was reflected in the teachings of the apostles. Paul taught the Colossians to Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering (Colossians 3:12). He taught the Romans to, Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate (Romans 12:16). Not only did the apostle Paul teach such doctrine, he followed his Saviors example, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind (Acts 20:19).
Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (1Peter 5:5-6).
While this is not a popular topic, it had to be addressed in the days of the apostles, and so must be addressed today, perhaps even more so today as the church drifts further toward that time in the Scriptures known as the falling away or apostasy. Finally the ultimate Diotrephes will arise who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (2Thessalonians 2:4).
In closing remarks, I think it appropriate to warn every reader, and remind them, as I have been, of the deceitfulness of our own hearts. Perhaps we would see ourselves as meek and humble servants of the Lord, and among those who are of low estate. But, if we would examine our selves in the radiance of Jesus Christ, we are sure to see within our own flesh the pride of life seeking to rear up its ugly head. The temptation to esteem our self is really only another form of our adversary's deadly persuasion, Ye shall be as gods .
From the beginning he has put this snare in the way of men. The only release as always, which will also help to keep us humble, is to set our eyes upon the Lord Jesus Christ and behold Him who is altogether lovely. Only then can one truly see how short we fall of the glory of God, acknowledging to Him only be all glory honor and praise, and see to it that in all things he might have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).
I agree with all that you said. Sometimes I feel my pastor wants us under his thumb and that scares me to death to think that two of our people just left our church because a man's wife was very sick and they miss a lot of church and he brought out In a message that we're not to forsake the assembling our selves together very strongly I don't agree with the pastor in this I have always felt it meant not because your sick bit just don't want to come to church. Now we have lost two precious souls. Sad
Sadly, this is the state of the church in the last days. We have had an experience with a Diotrophes as well. We had attended a sweet little fellowship, and one of these entered in and destroyed the church. His own father in law who was an elder in the church left the fellowship because of him. Tragic to say the least. He pushed out anyone who was not new evangelical, even his brother in law called him an antichrist. This is how serious it was. After we had left, he had put the sheep in serious debt by building himself a great cathedral. The fact of the matter, is that the light has gone out in multitudes of churches these days in the Americas.