I Have Not Sent Them
Are All Pastors Sent By God?
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.Jeremiah 23:21
It was ancient Babylon that the idea of the infallibility of the priest was first identified. Alexander Hyslop makes mention of the Priests of the mystery religions holding peculiar knowledge and were held with an esteem that was above reproach.
Sadly, the idea that a priest, prophet, king or a pastor was to be practically held with this same esteem, never to be ‘dethroned’, has continued to this day. It has long been evident in Roman Catholicism, then we had seen evidence of it in diverse areas of Protestantism, it is found very commonly in the Charismatic / Pentecostal movement, but is now troublingly becoming evident in some Independent Baptist circles.
What does seem most evident of all is that it has risen in popularity among the leaders of Christianity just as the general reading of the Bible has declined among Christian laity. This, I believe, is not a coincidence.
The Character of Those God had Not Sent
The book of Jeremiah is astoundingly clear respecting the condemnation of the many prophets who were pastors to the people. God clearly demonstrates his great displeasure and anger against them and calls upon Jeremiah to preach unto the people the words of God warning against these heretics whom God had “not sent… yet they ran”.
For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.Jeremiah 10:21
Here God speaks of the true character of such pastors; they “are become brutish”, insensitive, harsh, pitiless, unfeeling; these are some simple synonyms that describe the evident nature of those God had not sent.
These are such men who have no concern of whether a member of the sheep fold stay or go, they do not leave the ninety and nine to seek them, that is the nature of a good shepherd described by the Lord, with a heart likened to God (Matt 18:12-14). No, on the contrary, the brutish pastor is pleased if a member who may have had a contention with them, leaves. Rather than truly mourn for those he considers ‘lost sheep’, he secretly desires they would leave and does little to seek after them.
I have personally been a part of a church with such a pastor, Pentecostalism is filled with such ‘brutish’ self-exultant men. They claim an authority for themselves that is reserved for the scriptures, they condemn all who question their authority, they are unafraid to take the scriptures out of their context claiming “touch not Gods anointed” (Psalm 105:15) assuming that their ascendance to the role of pastor naturally assumes God had sent them. It is however when they have evidently destroyed and “scatter the sheep of Gods pasture” (Jer 23:31), that it becomes clear he “had not sent them, yet they ran”.
It is false to equate David’s relationship with Saul as a justification to claim that their “anointing” was as evident as it was Saul’s. It is important to see that none of the texts, not Psalm 105:15 nor those found in 1 Sam 24, 1 Sam 26 and 2 Sam 1, relate to contention or admonition, nor the final rejection of the shepherd as the leader, but all those passages speak plainly of taking the life of false prophets or wicked kings; it is their destruction, not their admonishment these passages refer to.
Paul tells Timothy plainly;
“A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition REJECT”(Titus 3:10. emphasis mine).
Ignorance of Scripture Becomes The Permanent Pen of the Sheep
Typically however, false teaches are renowned for taking scriptures from their context and reapplying them where it suits them. But this is only ever successfully accomplished when the Christian laity, the congregations, do not know, nor read, or trust the plainness of the Scriptures. When this occurs, the congregations become snared through their own ignorance, the sheep become trapped in the permanent pen of false teachers.
God despises, even hates false pastors and prophets and princes (Hos 9:15-17). These take the heart of his people and cause them to sin, and all of this because the people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, they did not deal with “the priest” but eventually became ensnared by him and God “will punish both of them for their ways and reward them for their doings”, why? “because they have left off to take heed to the LORD” (Hos 4:6-10), they have set their bibles aside and believed the final authority claimed by the prophet, the priest, the pastor. Men who are charged by God to know the word and lead their families, are willfully ignorant of the scriptures and cannot stand when sinful men come to lead their wives and children astray.
The result or fruit of the ministry of a false shepherd is given to us; they have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered (Jer 10:21).
The passage in Jeremiah first assumes the flock were at one time united in truth, they knew Gods word and they were at one in their relationship to the Lord. They heard the voice of the Lord and draw near to him, but it is when they do not know the voice of their true Shepherd that the voice of strangers confuse them, and they scatter.
Some know the Lord and see he is not evident in their Pastor, and so they leave, but the rest remain enticed and ignorant. This was first witnessed by Jeroboam the son of Nebat in 1 Kings 12:26-33 when he feared the people would separate from him and so he built an alternative alter to entice the people to worship there rather than in Jerusalem, and by good words and fair speeches, he deceived the heart of the simple (Rom 16:18) and there they remained separated from God and suffered no less than nineteen wicked Kings until they were carried away by the Assyrians.
So too it is with Churches who’s men are ignorant of the scriptures and suffer wicked men and false teaches to govern them. Paul makes clear to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly…” (Rom 16:17-18), but rather than do so, many congregations suffer them. It is true that there will be those who will contend for the truth, I was one of them, but heretics will scatter some and the rest will remain blinded, but sadly when the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch.
The Character of Those God Has Sent
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.(Jer 29:8-9)
Clearly there are those who claim the office of a prophet of the Lord, but he had evidently not sent them. Like backslidden Israel, many Churches receive the very prophets they deserve for their lack of discernment and consideration of the Scriptures. There is a reason why the ancient Priests of Babylon, or those of the Roman Catholic Church, or those of the Charismatic movement have such success and remain in their posts unquestioned, the people under them do not read their bibles, and if they do they are unconvinced by the simplicity of what they read.
Sadly, in a day when not even many members of IB Churches believe they have a Holy Bible, it is inevitable that wolves in sheep’s clothing will easily outwit them. The final authority of the Bible has already been displaced so it is now simply a matter of a strong or subtle mind to deceive and divide.
It is generally believed today that what qualifies a man for the role of pastor within the Church is his completion of a Bible College diploma/degree. Once a degree is obtained, he is, in the minds of many, off and running. However, not only are we hard-pressed to find ANY clear passage in the Bible stating any such schools are required or even exist for the training of Pastors, but the very passages that DO perfectly describe that which qualifies a man for such a terrible responsibility as pastoring, is virtually ignored.
1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.(1 Tim 3:1-7)
If every single word of God is true and pure and all such words and their logical consideration is taken as authoritative, then when Paul sets Timothy to seek for men to fill the offices required, these are the characteristics and qualities he commands Timothy to identify, these are those qualifications, among others, that DEFINE the pastor. A man with such qualities demonstrates the characteristics of the man who will represent the Lord to his flock. And should not the standards be so high?
Note that his desire for the office of a Bishop does not yet qualify him for that office, but is only the beginning of a good work. Blameless in the eyes of those who may bring a charge or accusation against him is but one characteristic. He MUST be married, and the husband of one wife, in other words NEVER divorced, this sets him apart from many, especially today. Vigilant in other words, watchful, cautious, observant. He must be sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; these are the characteristics that demonstrate a grounded man and wise. He is not to be given to wine, unlike the deacons what are “not given to much wine”, the pastors are to abstain completely respecting alcohol, in this the scriptures are plain. No striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; The pastor is not to be deliberately provocative or argumentative, he should not be on the prowl looking for an argument to enter and quickly voice his opinions. The lust of money and covetousness go hand in glove.
He must rule well his own house, having his children in subjection; beloved this is a priority, If a pastor does not have his own children how can he ever begin to demonstrate the sort of love that represents God to his congregation? Only a father can identify the love and also grief that God experiences when his children are faithful and when they go astray. Having no child leads a man to be easily brutish, never experiencing the selfless pain that can come from a child in need of discipline and the yearning desire to see them restored.
So, it is without a doubt that a pastor must be both married and have children before any other consideration is given to his suitability, and there is a reason for it. For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?. The manner of ‘rule’ written of here is not merely that which governs states and nations, but that patient and longsuffering rule of God. The father represents God to his children in all Gods wonderful nature and character, filled with grace and love and mercy and yet also the meekness that balances such love with discipline.
Interestingly, the epistle to Titus reveals his children to have a good witness without, “not accused of riot or unruly” (Tit 1:6), yes, it is our children’s behaviour to the outside world that best identifies the character of the man suited to the Pulpit.
Tall criteria? Beloved, it is those who are to care for the flock of God we are speaking of, yes the criteria is expected to be high.
10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. 11 They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.(Jer 12:10-11)
And this is the reason the qualifications must be high. It is settling for anyone who puts up their hand that becomes the desolation of Churches. Jeroboam placed the meanest of the people as priests and this accelerated the demise of the ten northern tribes of Israel.
Jesus our Lord continued the concern;
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.(Matt 7:15-20)
Yet another witness of the false prophet condemned by the Lord.
It amazes me that 26 of the 27 books of the New Testament warn us about false teaches and false prophets and yet there remains the belief that it is to be tolerated no matter the cost. What willful blindness needs to prevail to be willing to tolerate those who distort the words of God and scatter his flock? What lack of love for the Lord will excuse having those who claim to represent him as false teachers, liars, brutish men? It is not a fear of God that tolerates such sin, but a fear of man.
Some will utilize passages from the Old Testament out of proper context to give the excuse that God is the one who needs to remove unqualified men from the pulpit, and yet forget that God employs MEN TO DO HIS WORK.
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. .(Romans 16:17-18)
David did not sit behind to wait and see, he fought in the battles God promised to win. He was used by God to do his will and we see this time and time and time again. In Numbers 25 it was one man who stayed the wrath of God by doing that which none of the other men did, his zealousness and jealousy for the Lord had him undertake Gods judgment, and God rewarded him saying;
11 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. 12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: 13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.(Num 25:11-13)
So saying ‘if God wants a man, whom he did not send to pastor, removed, he will do it himself’ neglects both the multitude of warnings to recognise false teachers and ignores that God uses men to do his will. This is a false teaching and places a stumbling block before the Church looking for an invisible hand that is apart from that which we are commanded to watch for and deal with.
Why else did Jude use such strong language in condemning false teachers saying;
11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.(Jude 11-13)
Perhaps God is looking for strong men willing to remove such wolves from among the flock before more harm is done.
As a man who is both a Pastor and was once a deacon of a Church, I had contended more strongly for the faith of Christ than any who had done before me, against a false pastor, I have long studied the truth and consistency of the scriptures in this matter.
Notably; my contention against the Pastor of what was once Sunbury Community Church was long ago, but time vindicated the truth of all I had written about with that false teacher now divorced and quit of the ministry. Though none stood with me at the time, and only a very tiny number came out over the months and years that past, I am in no doubt as to the justification of the stand I had taken and the Lord had wonderfully blessed me and my family since. Now as a Pastor myself, I believe with all my heart it is the congregations right to deal with their pastor should he turn from the Scriptures.
Beloved, I escaped what might have been a long term prison for my heart and soul before the Lord. My family could never have grown when that ‘cloud without water‘ held the pulpit, but because the Church would not listen to my warnings, they suffered another 15 years of that godless man’s service.
There are manners in which both the warning, admonition and ultimate removal of such people be undertaken, that is not the object of this brief essay. But in short, if it is that the Church was already apostate (as was the case for me so long ago), and YOU are the one who has grown in your understanding of the scriptures only to then realise you are a part of an apostate church, you can only contend through appeal until it is time to come out of her and then perhaps warn those if you have such burden of responsibility. Martin Luther came out of the Roman Catholic system after attempts to reform her, so too Calvin, so too Tyndale and Wycliff. As Israel could not convert Egypt, out of Egypt he was called (Hos 11:1), so it will be with you who come to see the nature of apostasy in the church you see God has taken away his candlelight.
HOWEVER, if the landmarks had long been established and a new ‘minister’ takes the pulpit and is seen to move those original landmarks long accustomed to, then it is for this minister to be removed and not its sheep scattered. The minster is the divider, the heretic, the wolf upon whom it were better that a millstone was cast about him, than that he should cause one of the Lord’s children offence (Mrk 9:42).
This is, however, a consideration of a topic grossly misunderstood in this Laodicean age. Be sure simply to know that NEVER can a false teacher be biblically justified to be tolerated as a wolf among the sheep, not if you have a love for the sheep, and reverance for their Shepherd.
God bless you.
Pr Edi Giudetti