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Monday, July 3, 2017

The Problem with Pastoral Movements and Alliances


Crux Now
It's good to meet together for fellowship. It's what Hebrews 10.25 tells us. But we should meet together for something that really fulfills God's will, not just meet together per se. A lot of pastoral get-togethers are meetings that really lead to nowhere.

I know that lots of ministers will get offended by this article. But that's how the prophets of old also declared truth---offending people with truth and even getting killed doing so. I know pastors have the best interests at heart for forming associations and alliances and meetings. But what do they really achieve? They say they do it so there would be unity in the body.

I have observed in a lot of pastoral meetings, remaining in the background so I can see the picture from the outside, and I always note that despite their "club" meetings they really remain disunited. For instance, there was this bible study among pastors of different denominations. They discussed on a passage that started well. But soon, their doctrinal differences surfaced. In the end, they just settled with respecting each other's doctrinal differences. So they left the meeting still with disunited beliefs. And they call that "one body."

You see, we don't need to "respect each other's beliefs or doctrines," because we need to believe the same things. The left hand cannot believe one thing and the right hand another thing. The whole body should stick to the same beliefs to move in the same direction. We are different parts of the body but we should have only one mind and Spirit.

It's not enough to just have a common stand on some doctrinal points, like who Jesus is and the trinity and salvation. We should all agree on everything God said in the bible. The Acts church was like that. What the church in Corinth believed, the church in Thessalonica and Ephesus also believed. Unlike today where one church believes in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the other does not (I have seen churches that believe Holy Spirit "gifts" are their talents in art, singing, public speaking, and playing instruments but stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the gifts of speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophesy, discerning between spirits, working miracles and others. They even mock at these gifts and people who have them).

When you speak in churches today, you have to consider their doctrinal beliefs because you might say something they don't believe in---though what you'd say is in the bible. It has gotten to the point where some churches don't care if it's in the bible. If it isn't in their denominational doctrines they will have nothing to do with it and sometimes even treat it as demonic.

One body with different beliefs? That makes for a body that has many heads, all thinking differently from each other. That's not unity---that's a monster. Again, for instance, one church says there is no more speaking in tongues. If you do, you are of the devil. But another says they practice the gift and if you don't you're not really saved. Another church says you cannot be holy in this life, while another says you can. And if you're not holy, you may lose your salvation.

Another church says once saved always saved. But others oppose that, saying nothing is certain, so we must all do good works to please God and somehow secure our salvation. How can all these contradicting teachings come from the Holy Spirit? In this case Christ is divided.
What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ." [1 Corinthians 1.12]
Today, some follow this denomination, another this other denomination and they have different doctrinal beliefs. And to come up with some form of "unity" they all just agree to respect each other's belief. This "respect for each other's belief" is found nowhere in the bible. What God wants is complete unity (perfect unity), not "respect for each other's (differing) beliefs." We miss the point altogether if we think we can agree that Jesus is Lord and God and Savior and yet have opposing ideas about his WORD in the bible.

And I also note how these pastoral movements are composed of small congregations. Big and major church denominations seldom join them. Why can't all churches come together and have complete unity?

Here's a portion of Jesus' prayer about complete unity in John 17:
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Complete unity is crucial to Jesus' work. Complete unity is what will make the world "believe that you have sent me," said Jesus. Even if we do the best ministries and evangelism and have mega churches and multitudes of members, if we remain disunited, the world will never really know that the Father had sent Jesus to save mankind. No wonder so many pagan religions still dominate major parts of the world despite our countless missionary works all through these centuries. And so many established churches are dying in "Christian" countries despite repeated revivals.

Complete unity is also the key to having the glory which the Father gave Jesus. As it is, the church is far from being glorious. Probably peopled, moneyed and propertied, but not glorious. This glory was given in Jesus' time, but it faded when the church turned worldly, using the ways and standards of this world rather than God's ways and standards. For instance, no church today wants to be least. They all want to be great.

It faded when the church divided itself into denominations.

And the passage above goes on: "Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." The love the Father and Jesus have for Jesus' disciples worldwide will only be acknowledged by the world if all true believers unite completely. Perfect unity in the body of Christ is critical.

The funny thing is, there are probably thousands of pastoral movements and associations in the world and yet not one takes "complete unity" seriously. No one wants to give up and dismantle their denominations. They love their denominational trophies too much to do that. What they do instead is just replace complete unity with alliances and associations and pastoral movements where they respect each other's beliefs. This kind of associations will go nowhere. They will multiply and even grow big and yet remain unaffecting the world. The Acts church, on the other hand, turned the world upside down [Acts 17.6].
But when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting, "These men who have turned the world upside down have now come here,"
Pastoral movements and associations should be aiming for no less than "the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." These are strong words---"the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Definitely, this is NOT just alliances or respecting each other's beliefs. Here's the powerful passage:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. [Ephesians 4]
Genuine maturity is attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. And to attain this, all churches all over the world need to reach unity in faith and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The "complete unity" Jesus wants. And for this to happen the body of Christ needs to be built up and equipped. How? Through the 5-fold ministries.

Pastoral movements will never achieve this unless they have genuine apostles and prophets and evangelists in their assemblies. If you remain meeting as pastors and bishops, nothing will happen even if you meet for thousands of years because God's will requires all 5-fold. Pastoral movements and associations should seriously endeavor to have this happen (by God's grace) instead of meeting just for the sake of meeting and sometimes even rallying behind politicians and being used by them. 

It is useless being able to gather together with politicians and act as their "spiritual adviser," whatever that means. These things were never done by Jesus and they will never lead to God's will for these end times. It is good to have a movement or association that extends help to the needy and victims of calamities and hold bible studies in prisons. But all these lead to nowhere unless we do everything---even the smallest iota or detail---according to God's will in his WORD. As it is, instead of ushering saved souls to the Kingdom of God, we lead them to our separate denominations or empires and make them become familiar with man's ways there and strangers to God's ways.

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