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Church Authority

The devil’s grand design in the world is to undermine and destroy every institution of God—like the Bible, Israel, the church, church authority, the gospel, prophecy, the family, marriage, and the fundamental doctrines of the faith. He hates them because they are from God. To accomplish this ungodly aim the devil spreads lies that blacken these institutions and challenge the truth that is taught in the Bible about them.

The devil has focused with particular venom in the current generation on church authority. Various movements have sprang up within evangelicalism that malign authority in the church. They want churches that function without leadership. They want democracy (majority rule) or “every man does what is right in his own eyes.”   They don’t want leadership telling them what they are supposed to believe and how they are supposed to live. They want to be done with the familiar distinction between sheep and shepherds. A common justification for this is that the pastoral office tramples on the gifts that God has given to every individual believer.

But this rejection of the pastoral office is in direct contrast to what the Bible teaches. God has placed authority in the churches—pastors—to oversee and shepherd the flock (Acts 20:28) and govern or rule the flock (Heb. 13:7,17; 1 Tim. 5:17). Regardless of what we call them — pastors, shepherds, elders, or overseers — pastors are an essential part of God’s plan for equipping the saints to minister in their gifts,  edifying (building up) the body, and bringing the flock to unity in the faith and spiritual maturity (Eph. 4:11-13). You cannot take pastors out of the picture without undermining God’s designs in these matters.

Now I grant that pastors at times fail in this noble calling. They may lord it over the flock (rule with a high or heavy hand) and display neither gentleness in their instruction nor humility in their corrections (1 Pet. 5:23, 2 Tim. 2:24-25).  But don’t let such failures stir your heart to side with those who reject leadership. Poor leadership is not an excuse for rejecting the institution of leadership.

“Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.”

Lee W. Brainard

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