Thursday, September 11, 2008

Who Are You Accountable Unto?

Dear Brother and Sisters,

I often find that the Spirit of Christ directs me to those things He would have me to share with the body through the questions that are presented to me by other believers. Today, a brother in Christ wrote to me asking if I was involved in a local body of believers and accountable to a pastor or group of elders. This is an excellent question, and because there is so much that is taught incorrectly to the body of Christ concerning this matter, I wish to share this correspondence with you.

Joseph –

Let me start by saying how much I am blessed by your teachings and your blog. The insights the Lord has given you have really helped me go deeper in Him in this season and pursue a life of greater intimacy and righteousness with Messiah.

My question for you pertains to the accountability and oversight of your ministry. Are you part of a local church and submitted to a specific pastor or group of elders? Who do you have in your life that is in a position of formal accountability and authority?

I ask this because there are so many examples of godly men and women in the Body today falling into some level of sin. My heart for you and your ministry would be that you are protected and keep on the right path through accountability relationships, both formal and informal.

Thanks for taking the time to respond at your convenience.

Blessings in Messiah,

P.

Dear P.,

Thank you for writing and sharing your words of encouragement. You asked the following:

My question for you pertains to the accountability and oversight of your ministry. Are you part of a local church and submitted to a specific pastor or group of elders? Who do you have in your life that is in a position of formal accountability and authority?

I ask this because there are so many examples of godly men and women in the Body today falling into some level of sin. My heart for you and your ministry would be that you are protected and keep on the right path through accountability relationships, both formal and informal.

I very much appreciate the heart concern that you have expressed that I might be protected and kept on the right path. I very much desire these things myself. Should you choose to, you can read an autobiographical account of my walk with the Lord in the writing Evidence of Things Unseen. (http://www.heart4god.ws/id426.htm)

You will find that I am not a part of any local church, and this is the will of the Lord, for He brought it about. I have very much desired to be a part of a fellowship of believers, but at this time where so much of Christianity is under the influence of the Saul Kingdom, many who are after the pattern of David have found themselves fleeing into wilderness places as they await a time when God will once more assemble them. David, after many years of separation from family and nation, at the age of 30 was made king in Hebron. The word Hebron means “place of association.”

The apostle Paul described these last days in the following way.

II Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

Due to the Lord revealing to me sound doctrine, and calling me to teach the same to the body of Christ, I have found myself rejected time and again by church leaders who would not themselves endure sound doctrine. They have embraced myths and fables, and consequently do not desire my presence in their midst.

The Lord indicated I would be rejected by my brothers even as Joseph was rejected by his brothers, who were tenders of sheep (a picture of ministers of the body of Christ.) The last two churches at which I was in attendance, I was rejected by the ministers. Again, you can read the details in the book I mentioned.

This leads into something that we should all understand. The Lord has appointed men to shepherd the flock of God, but what should the sheep do when the shepherds are counseling them in a wicked way? The disciples of Christ faced the same situation, for they belonged to Israel, and God had appointed rulers over His people, both in government and in the priesthood.

Acts 4:18-20
And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Yahshua. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard. "

Acts 5:27-29
And when they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men.”

Just as Peter and John were given a message to proclaim, so too has Christ given a message that I am to proclaim. In fact, this commission is to all His disciples, for He said,

Matthew 28:19-20
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you...

Many Christians have misunderstood the great commission to be only a call to evangelize. It is far more than this. It is a call to make disciples who will obey all that Christ has commanded. Christ’s commands are found in the gospels. They are revealed to us by the Spirit, and they are found in the words of the apostles.

The church has departed from a great many of these teachings, and I have found the Lord directing me to proclaim those things that are neglected in this hour. The message of suffering as a disciple of Christ; the message of Sabbath rest where disciples must do nothing of their own initiative, but be led of the Spirit in all actions and words; the message of divine government and its application to male and female roles in the body of Christ; the message of the reconciliation of all men unto God through the cross of Christ; and various other messages are those things He has entrusted to me.

In instance after instance I have found that church leaders become offended at one or more of these teachings which comprise sound doctrine. I have been instructed by men to no longer proclaim these things. (Just yesterday I had a man write to me to tell me I needed to cease teaching about the role of women in the body of Christ.) I have had to answer as did the apostles, “I must obey God rather than men.”

I have found no church today that would embrace those things the Lord has committed unto me to proclaim. I have looked diligently, and I have found none. Seeing that this is the situation with the church at this present time, that there is no church I could join and be welcome without the requirement placed upon me that I cease teaching those things the Spirit has delivered to me, I find that I must remain outside the camp. But joining a church at this time is not even an option, for the Lord has called me out of Babylon, which stands as a symbol of the present apostate church system. The Spirit spoke pointedly to me through the following passage of Scripture.

Revelation 18:4
"Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues...”

The Lord revealed that the present state of the church is corrupt and if I had stayed in it, and submitted to the pressure of the leaders of this same church, I would find myself eventually participating in her sins and becoming a partaker of her judgments. It was really a merciful act that He chose to have me cast out of the last two churches with whom I sought fellowship.

You may ask, “Does this not place me in a perilous position, for I have no man to act as my head, and to whom I might be accountable?” The answer I would give is that the regenerate man, born again of the Spirit, has been given Christ as His head.

I Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

Is this not also the meaning of Christ’s following words?

Matthew 23:8-11
"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.”

Those who are ministers in the body should not view their calling as an opportunity to lord it over other men. Ministers are called to be servants. If we take the entire counsel of Scripture into view we will realize that God has appointed shepherds in the body, and they are to be HONORED. Yet they are never to be strictly obeyed as a son would have to obey his father. We have ONE FATHER whom we must obey in all things. The following Scripture is one that has often been misunderstood, leading to wrong doctrine.

Hebrews 13:17
Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

The word “obey” here causes much confusion. Strong’s Concordance provides the following definition for the Greek word from which it is derived.

peitho (pi'-tho); a primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy, to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively, to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty):

KJV - agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) conflent, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.

The definition of this Greek word would be better rendered as “let yourself be persuaded, do not be obstinate toward leaders, honor them.” This meaning is also found in the word translated as “submit.” It comes from a Greek word that means “yield.” In other words, do not be rebellious toward those who are leaders in the church. This would be unprofitable for you, for they care for your soul. Of course, we know there are many leaders today who do not care for the souls of those they stand among as shepherds.

Back in the 1970's there was a shepherding movement that arose in the church that proclaimed a message that Christians were to obey their church leaders in all things. This took on some bizarre manifestations as a man could not choose to do anything without receiving permission from his pastor. He had to get the pastor’s permission in all of his family decisions, his employment decisions, even to know whom he should vote for. This is a great corruption of the will of the Father, and it goes contrary to everything He has called me to preach.

The Spirit of Christ has instructed me to lead all men to a Spirit directed life.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Now, I would agree that receiving counsel from others is a good thing, and a humble man will take all counsel seriously, weighing it before the Lord. Ultimately the man will have to do what he is convinced is God’s will for him.

You have asked specifically about the “accountability and oversight of my ministry.” I have no ministry organization. I am only one man performing the work to which I have been called. I will have to give an “account” of the stewardship of this ministry to the One who has appointed it to me, and none other.

Romans 14:12
So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.

II Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Let me share one more passage that brings much insight to this matter.

I Corinthians 4:1-4
Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I should be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.

The apostle is saying that it is really a small matter to have others examine our works, for not even our own conscience can truly declare us righteous or unrighteous. The One who examines us is the Lord, and only to the degree that the judgments of other men, or our own judgments, are in harmony with the judgment of the Lord, are these opinions of any value. We should be living our lives as men who know they must give an account to Christ who judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

There are basically two areas in which this matter of accountability finds application. One is a person’s moral life. The other is his teaching. There are some who would suggest, and have done so, that I should find some group of ministers to test my teachings to see if they are sound. The problem with this is in finding ministers who are themselves perfectly sound in doctrine. I don’t know of any.

Should I be hindered from proclaiming the things I am convinced I have received from the Spirit of Christ by having everything judged by fallible men? Will the Lord acquit me as having fulfilled the stewardship entrusted to me if I only teach those things in which there is no controversy? Most of what needs to be taught today is embroiled in great controversy.

I think it is better to simply practice the following admonition of the apostles.

I Thessalonians 5:19-21
Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good...

The words I share with the body of Christ are prophetic utterances. Let the body examine them carefully and hold fast to that which is good. Exercising this type of discernment is a responsibility of every believer. Much evil has resulted in the body of Christ because Christians have left discernment in the hands of ministers, and they fail to test all things for themselves. There are few with the spirit of the Bereans today.

Acts 17:10-11
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

I practice this same discernment in everything I read and hear. I have repeatedly invited those who receive my teachings to test them against Scriptures.

As far as my moral accountability and protection, I believe even in this I must look to the Lord. I do see the wisdom of traveling with a partner in ministry, and the Lord has supplied my friend Randy for this purpose. I also know not to enter into a closeted situation of counseling with a female, for not only does it leave an impression of impropriety, but it opens a door for temptation. But as we progress to maturity we must learn personal integrity. I heard a minister define integrity as “doing what is right when no one is watching.”

If we always rely upon men to keep us in line, then we will not grow in maturity before Christ. We must learn to stand on our own feet. The story of Jehoash in the Old Testament provides a good witness to this truth.

II Kings 12:1-2
In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash became king, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Jehoash did right in the sight of Yahweh all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

Jehoash did right as well as the elderly and godly Jehoida was instructing him. Yet when Jehoida died, what was truly in Jehoash’s heart was revealed. He turned to wickedness, even murdering Jehoida’s son. Does not God judge the heart? He wanted Jehoash’s heart to be revealed. If Jehoida had not died it may have appeared that Jehoash’s heart was right before God when in truth it was not. His obedience was the result of outward influence.

We may think that it would have been good for Jehoida to always exert this influence over Jehoash that his entire life might have been one of righteousness. God is more interested in revealing our hearts than in keeping us from transgression. (God could have kept David from sinning, but He allowed David to be tempted and fall into sin to expose what was in his heart.) Yahweh wants His sons to be perfect as He is perfect, and this perfection will not be tested if we look to man to keep our sinful hearts in check. We must learn to rule over our hearts ourselves.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,

Joseph

(Some might be interested to know how this teaching relates to married women in relation to their husbands. What should a woman do if her husband counsels her to do something sinful? There is a chapter in the book Sarah’s Children that addresses this topic. You can find it here:
http://www.heart4god.ws/id248.htm)

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: http://www.parablesblog.blogspot.com

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

1 comment:

Joe said...

Dear Joseph,

Thank you for the insights and the teaching concerning accountability and oversight of ones ministry.
We are all called to minister and those of us who are born again and have come to Christ, all have a ministry.
It is seldom understood and not encourage in the Church today. The nicolaitan error in the religious systems has prevented the saints from maturing and being able to truly follow the ministry given to him. We are all being held accountable for our words and deeds during our time in the earthly body and it is important for the saint to understand that GOD has established a 5 fold ministry for the perfecting of the saints.
Eph 4:11 And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13 till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Eph 4:14 that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;
Eph 4:15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;
Eph 4:16 from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love

The vast majority of today’s church consists of a pastor who rules over the assembly, he may have a board of elders but seldom have the elders enough power and authority to rule over the pastor. The dilemma is, the saint is getting only the teaching of the pastor and is missing the edification and teaching from the other 4 entities and ends up malnourished in his walk. So many are being deceived to believe the pastor or priest is the only authority in the church. In your book “The Remnant Bride” you wonderfully explained the purpose of ministering to the saints through the parable of the eunuchs preparing Ester the bride to be presented before the king and the important point is made, that it is not the eunuch who the focus is on, but the bride. It is important for the called out ones to learn to be led by the SPIRIT unto GOD”S teachers and pastors and evangelists, prophets and apostles. I can tell from my own walk, how GOD has called me out of the apostate religious system and led me over the years to the various parts of this 5 fold ministry of GOD. He has steered me clear of false teachers and preachers throughout my walk and has brought me to your site to receive knowledge and understanding in the teaching he has bestowed upon you. I know you to be one part of HIS five fold ministry, the SPIRIT revealed this to me from the moment I visited your site the very first time. There are others who minister in different areas of the life of the saint, not everybody is a teacher, but they are equally important to the saint and have to be sought diligently. The Spirit will reveal the parts of GOD’S ministry to the saint and will lead him to them. I can testify to that.

The only authority the people of GOD should answer to and being held accountable to, is GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ alone. I pray that the FATHER continue to give you the strength, knowledge and wisdom in GOD’S WORD to minister to the people of GOD. He has given you a confirmation of it as well; you posted this blog at 1:53. The number representing the SONS OF GOD.

In Christ

J. Boes