PART 4 ABUSE OF TRUST
PART 4 ABUSE OF TRUST
USING THE TESTED LEADERSHIP MODEL TO FORMULATE A DOCTRINAL VIEW
Are you surprised at how differently a doctrinal topic can be taught based on the scriptures that are used to support it? No wonder there are such theological disagreements between the churches of Christ. My hope is that this study will help you to better understand the leadership model that you are under, and help you decide which model will bring you into a closer walk with God. So, let’s continue to look at doctrinal topics from the mandatory leadership model and determine what scriptural sections will be used when the same topic is looked at from the tested leadership model. The next topic is one that was very popular in one of the churches that I was associated with.
TOPIC: DOES THE END JUSTIFY THE MEANS? OR, CAN A WRONG ACTION BY LEADERSHIP BE JUSTIFIED IF THE END RESULT FURTHERS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
The Mandatory Leadership Model
Whither the men went I wot not:
Suggested Reading: Joshua 2:1-24
Joshua sent men to spy out the city of Jericho. They eventually resided at the house of a prostitute named Rahab, and the king of Jericho sent messengers to her house to apprehend them. Aware that the two spies’ lives were in danger, she hid them on the rooftop of her house, and when the messengers of the king arrived she told them that the men had already left. It is obvious that she lied, and some would say that the situation was such that lying or committing sin was the appropriate response. Therefore, because the result was beneficial with the saving of the spies’ lives, those in leadership can consider sin as an acceptable alternative as long as it promotes the kingdom of God.
The Mandatory Leadership Model Characteristic
This characteristic is that of justifying sinful behavior as long as the intent of the actions is for the benefit of the kingdom of God. (Joshua 1:1-24)
The Tested Leadership Model
The question is; can the committing of sin be justified because of the desired end result, which is to promote the kingdom? For example, if a believer could somehow attain a large sum of money by means of a sinful action, would the end justify the means if the funds could support missionary teams around the world, or to purchase a facility that could be used as a Bible college? Let’s take a look at a story from the book of Daniel.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he … prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime: Suggested Reading: Daniel 5:1-31; 6:1-28
Nabonidus and his son Belshazzar were the last two kings of the Chaldean (Babylonian) Empire. Both of them exercised ruling power in the empire. On this particular occasion, Belshazzar made a great feast for one thousand of his lords. As he tasted the wine, he commanded that the vessels of gold and silver, which had been taken by his father Nebuchadnezzar during the invasion and destruction of Jerusalem, be used as the containers from which to drink the wine. As the wine was consumed, they gave praise to their gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone. In the same hour, the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and began to write something on a wall. When the king saw this, his cheerful appearance paled, and he was so frightened that the ligaments of his thighs lost the strength to hold his body upright and he fell to the floor.
In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. Daniel 5:5-6
The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers and soothsayers with the hope that one of them would be able to interpret the writing. Whoever was able to do this would be given the position of third ruler in the kingdom. Not only could no one interpret the writing, but also none could even read it. Then the queen entered and told the King of a man in the kingdom that had interpreted the dreams of his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar. This person was described as one in whom was the spirit of the holy gods, in whom was found light (the emblem of knowledge, making all things clear), understanding (the idea of a kind of intelligence that enables a person to avoid errors or miscalculations), wisdom (good judgment), an excellent spirit (an extraordinary mind), knowledge (the power of knowing), the interpreting of dreams, the showing of hard sentences (explaining riddles, finding the meaning of obscure sentences), and the dissolving of doubts (an ability to find solutions to seemingly impossible problems).
Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation. Daniel 5:10-12
Belshazzar called for the man, Daniel, to be brought before him and told him that if he could read the writing and interpret it he would be made the third ruler in the kingdom. Daniel responded that the king should keep his gifts adding that as Nebuchadnezzarhad been hardened in pride and removed from his kingly throne, he was also so filled with pride that he opposed the Lord of heavens by using the temple vessels as drinking vessels in conjunction with idolatry. Next, Daniel read and interpreted the writing on the wall, telling Belshazzar that his kingdom was finished and it would be divided and given to the Medes and Persians. Following this, Belshazzar made a proclamation that Daniel was now the third ruler in the kingdom. In that same night Belshazzar was murdered.
In approximately 538 BC, Cyrus, the subordinate prince under King Darius, conquered Babylon and appointed 120 princes over the kingdom as well as three presidents (administrators), one of which was Daniel. Over time, Daniel outshined (showed himself prominent) the two other administrators. Darius considered consolidating the number of administrators and making him the sole one over the kingdom.
Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Daniel 6:3
Word of this got back to the other two presidents and the 120 princes, so they decided to band together in order to find grounds for complaint against Daniel, hoping that this appointment would not take place, but found none. So, they came up with a clever idea that would remove Daniel from consideration to this appointment. They came before the king and asked him to approve of and establish a royal statute for thirty days that, in effect, said that anyone who prayed to anyone other than the king during this time would be cast into a den of lions. The king, unaware of their evil intent, signed the decree.
All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counselors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Daniel 6:7
Even though Daniel was aware of the decree, he didn’t stop praying to Jehovah three times a day, as was his practice.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Daniel 6:10
Here is an example of someone who continued to follow his God in spite of the awareness that this could result in his death. He could have decided to stop praying for 30 days and then resume after the royal decree was no longer in effect, but if he had done this I’m sure that word would have spread that Daniel couldn’t count on his God to deliver him so he decided to stop praying. You might respond and say that Daniel didn’t lie as Rahab had. That’s true, but compromising one’s testimony is tantamount to condoning sin, the sin being that of not trusting God (Jehovah) to handle the situation.
The princes and administrators could now carry out their plan to the fullest. They arrived at Daniel’s house as he was praying and reported back to the king, who begrudgingly cast him into a lions’ den overnight. In the morning the king arrived at the lion’s den and found Daniel alive, his God having preserved his life.
My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Daniel 6:22
What is the point of this story as it relates to Rahab? Rahab and Daniel were at different places in their walk with God, as we all are. Rahab decided to lie in order to save the spies, but Daniel made the decision to continue to pray to his God even though he could have chosen to abstain for 30 days when the king’s decree would no longer be in effect.
Does the end justify the means? What do you think? Let’s go to the book of Matthew.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you:
Suggested Reading: Matthew 10:1-20
Jesus called his twelve disciples together and told them that He was sending them out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. They were to: preach that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out devils. Some would receive them and some wouldn’t. They were told to beware because some men would have them arrested and brought before governors and kings for His sake, but this would be an opportunity for them to speak about Him. Furthermore, he comforted them by saying that when they were confronted, they shouldn’t be upset or anxious about the manner of their defense because God would tell them through the Holy Spirit what to say at the appropriate time.
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. Matthew 10:17-20
There is no mention that when the Spirit gave them something to say that it would be received favorably. The main thing to consider was that whoever they were brought before would have an opportunity to hear about Christ. Whatever was to occur after this remains to be seen, and the characteristic or perspective that can be deduced under the tested leadership model follows.
The Tested Leadership Model Characteristic
Sin is never justified as a means to promote the kingdom of God. It is inevitable that we, as witnesses for Christ, will be rejected by others who, in some cases, may want to do us physical harm. When this happens, keep your eyes on God who will provide a word in season through the Holy Spirit for us to speak that which testifies of Christ. (Matthew 10:1-20) It is clear that the end does not justify the means; however the means, which is our dependence on God, justifies the end.
Are you enjoying this study? I find it liberating in the sense that it provides clarity as to the why of the differences in church theology.
In my earlier years, I was involved with a church that had the characteristics of both the mandated leadership model and the tested leadership model. There was no question that the leader was at times Spirit filled and Spirit directed. The gospel was preached, the gifts of the Spirit were manifested, and people’s lives were changed as they learned about who they were made to be anew in Christ. However, there were some teachings that seemed to provoke factions, mistrust, favoritism, and ultimately the condoning of sins committed by those in leadership.
I probably heard teachings that should have raised alarms in my own head, but sometimes it’s easier to dismiss or rationalize what we hear, especially if most of the people around us are in agreement that the teachings are of God. It is also easy for one to respond in the light of these teachings something like, “Who am I to think that what is being said is unscriptural? I’m just a member of the church who is not in any leadership capacity. If I were to say something to someone in leadership it is probable that they would get offended and rebuke me. I don’t want to be thought of as a rabble-rouser.”
In the middle eighties, this church suffered a major split in the leadership. There were many leaders who had been members from the inception that were trying to address and correct the teachings, which were causing these problems. Unfortunately, these recommended changes were only given lip service by those in the hierarchy, with the result being that those leaders who advocated change eventually left.
Hopefully, this study will help you to be able to recognize the characteristics or perspectives of Godly leadership that promotes: unity, being truthful to others, freedom from self-interest, helping others settle their grievances, a willingness to listen to other people's different views, forbearing under provocation, good deeds, and genuineness, without pretense. Let’s move forward and look at the next topic to be addressed.
TOPIC: ARE LEADERS ACCOUNTABLE ONLY TO GOD FOR THEIR INDISCRETIONS?
The Mandatory Leadership Model
Against thee and thee only have I sinned:
Suggested Reading: Psalm 51:1-4
King David entered into a relationship with a married woman, Bathsheba, after which he devised a plan to have her husband, Uriah, killed in battle. God told him through the prophet Nathan that there would be consequences for his actions. David repented and God removed the penalty of physical death for his transgressions, and imposed lesser consequences. David declared that his sin was against God and God alone.
The Mandatory Leadership Model Characteristics
This leadership model claims that whenever someone in leadership sins they are only accountable to God, and God alone. He will deal with him/her in His time and in His way. Any scriptures that are looked at from the New Testament concerning addressing a leader’s sin will be interpreted in this manner.
So, there you have it. Now you know how the sins of those in leadership can be allowed to promulgate, possibly for years, without correction from the assembly.
The Tested Leadership Model
It is true that the sins of a leader in the Old Testament were accountable to God and God alone. This was the manner in which God chose to deal with them at that time. But, is there a different protocol for leaders during the Church Age?
How are the sins of a pastor addressed?
Suggested Reading: 1 Timothy 5:19-21
This can be a source of much divided opinion in a church. Some see egregious sins of adultery, fornication, homosexuality, pedophilia and extortion (the crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one’s office or authority12) as actions which are socially acceptable or that are only answerable to God. Scriptures that indicate that these actions are sinful are considered out of date, not with the times, and judgmental, and if a member of a church tries to address a pastor’s sin he/she is considered to be trying to cause division and is viewed as an enemy of the pastor and assembly. In some instances, this person is faced with either having to leave the assembly or, simply put, to just keep their mouth shut.
Paul instructed Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:19 to not receive an accusation against an elder (pastor) unless there were at least two or three witnesses.
Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
Whether the situation is such that two or three believers have witnessed a pastor committing sin, or where the pastor has committed a sin against another believer who was accompanied by one or two fellow believers that have witnessed the offense, the witnesses should be allowed to bring an accusation (a speaking against) the pastor in a public tribunal or before whoever is in charge of handling such matters. After hearing from the pastor and the witnesses, a decision of guilt or innocence will be rendered. If the pastor is found guilty, then a public statement of the offense and the related censure indicating whether the pastor will be removed from the assembly for a fixed period of time or indefinitely will be made before the entire assembly so that fear of the discipline of God, in this case administered through the congregation, is a healthy thing in a Christian, especially for those in places of leadership13.
Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. 1 Timothy 5:20
Some would suggest that a pastor couldn’t be approached concerning a sinful action unless there are at least two or three witnesses. If there is only one witness, whether a first-hand observer or the victim, they have no recourse in the matter other than to give it over to God. I would agree that one witness is not enough to render a verdict or to allow the hearing of an accusation against an elder. However, I don’t think that these verses are inferring that a first-hand observer or the victim, if he/she is the only witness, cannot approach the pastor alone to discuss the incident. I also believe that if there is only one first-hand observer or victim, and the offense is criminal in nature, then the observer or victim should immediately report the matter to the civil authorities. The following characteristic or perspective under the tested leadership model can be deduced.
The Tested Leadership Model Characteristic
Two or three witnesses to a leader’s sin may bring an accusation against him/her before whoever is in charge of handling such matters. If the leader is found guilty, then a public statement of the offense and the related censure is made before the entire assembly to illustrate the discipline of God. One witness, whether an observer or victim, is not allowed to bring an accusation. However, I believe if the offense is criminal in nature the observer or victim should immediately report the crime to the legal authorities.
Are you surprised as to how much divergence there is concerning the teachings that are promulgated under the two leadership models? There are probably many believers that attend church who are unaware of these differences. They believe what is taught, and don’t question it. This mindset can be illustrated by the following verse, which says that there are those who are easily influenced, because they believe every word that is taught without proving it. However, believers should not be like them (simple), but prudent (wise) as those who consider their steps, by proving every word that they hear.
The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. Proverbs 14:15
In the chapter that follows we will continue to look at topics from the tested leadership model.
12Dictionary.com, 07 Nov. 2014 ˂http://dictionary.reference.com>.
13Bible Knowledge Commentary.
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