Making titles out of religious functions

Making titles out of religious functions. Introduction: Today we address church leaders by various titles like Pastor, Bishop, Reverend, Holiness, Venerable, Teacher, Cardinal, Master, Prophet, Apostle, Evangelist, Deacon, Father, Daddy, Priest, Pope, etc. What is the bible position on this? In our fundamental churches we claim that the bible is our only rule of faith and practice. But how biblical are our fundamental churches in our practices, especially concerning the organization of the local church; including church leaders titles? The first thing that will shock any careful reader of the bible is that there are no such titles for God’s servants in His word. Every time (no exception) a function is mentioned in association to a name in the bible, an article is included: Paul the apostle, Paul an apostle, Peter an elder, the elder, the prophet Gad, etc. You won’t see Apostle Paul, Apostle Peter, Prophet Agabus, Evangelist Timothy, Pastor Titus, etc. How then did this practice become prevalent in our churches? The answer is traceable to the church of Rome. A very careful study of our church organization, in comparison to the bible pattern and the church of Rome, will quickly reveal that we resemble that harlot church than the New Testament example of churches. One such area is title for church leaders. Now, did Christ say anything against this, oh yes! He did. The text for this study is Matt 23:1-12 A –Christ’s condemnation concerning religious titles: 1. Christ condemns the hypocritical exaltation of religious office: Matt 23:1-4 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. Christ condemns lordly pastors who give instructions to members but they don’t do the work. These would include pastors who have the members doing the work like soul winning (open air and personal), mowing the lawn, cleaning, etc but they themselves don’t; even when they are not debilitated. 2. Christ condemns the hypocritical advancement of religious officer’s identity: Matt 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, Christ condemns lordly pastors who want to broadcast their service to people for praise purpose and accolades. These would include pastors who work and count numbers for announcement purposes so that people can see what GREAT work they are doing. Christ further condemns lordly pastors who wear clothing that mark them out or identifies them to people as religious functionaries. These would include Bishop collar, Bishop Robe, Cassock and other ecclesiastical coats and garments. 3. Christ condemns the hypocritical solicitation by religious officers of recognition: Matt 23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, Christ condemns lordly pastors who love the “big man” identity. These would include pastors who at social gatherings and occasions seek recognition and what we call bigmanism in Nigeria. 4. Christ condemns the religious officers quest for titles: Matt 23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. Christ condemns lordly pastors who love making titles out of their service for identity purposes. These would include church leaders who use the title pastor, bishop, reverend, holiness, venerable, teacher, cardinal etc. Christ’s commandments concerning religious titles: Matt 23:8-10 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. Christ now instructs His church leaders not to be “called” by the titles of their functions because the titles belong to Him and rightly so. This does not mean that we should not describe the function, eg Paul an apostle, or Peter an elder. Christ’s commendations concerning religious titles: Matt 23: 11-12 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. Church leaders are called to serve in lowliness. We are brethren not masters or lords over Christ’s flock. Drop the title, drop the garments, drop the identity and imaging and serve Christ by serving one another. I believe when we get to heaven, these so called great men of God would become least men of God. Conclusion: Why the fragrant disobedience to this clear instructions and commands of Christ? Why do leaders persist? I submit that it has to do with that five letter word spelled P-R-I-D-E. What should we do? Repent from this disobedience and desist from it. In Matt 23:8-10 God commands are directed to the three people involved in this deed. 1. Instruction to leaders concerning themselves: Matt 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. God instructs the leaders not to give themselves titles. Don’t add a church function as a title to your name. You can inform people of what you are and what you do, eg “my name is O’buluwa; I am a pastor.” “I am Samuel, the pastor of Fundamental Independent Baptist Church.” “This is Simon, the bishop of Bible Baptist Church.” 2. Instruction to leaders concerning others: Matt 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. God instructs the leaders not to let the led and others give them titles or call them. Stop others from calling you by the title. Tell them to call you brother. This title is biblical because it was used as such in the bible (see 1 Cor 16:12, Heb 13:23, 1 Pet 3:15). 3. Instruction to leaders concerning themselves: Matt 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. God instructs the led and others not to give their leaders titles. Don’t call church leaders by such titles. ESA O’buluwa (1 Cor 9:16)