II Corinthians 2:6
Dr. R.L. Matthews Baptist Bible School of Theology
In another study, we seek to research the ministry of
the Apostle Paul, over against the background of
Thessalonians. In that we considered, "The Pastor
and The Model New Testament Church." A study of
Corinthians opens a great vista on Pastor and the Problem
Church." To deny that some churches are problem
churches is to deny Scripture, history and experience.
All churches, however, are not problem churches but all
churches do have problems. Problems are not always
created by the grass-root membership. Pastors are often
the cause of the very problems they see and deplore in
the church. It is apparent that this is true when a
pastor has violated moral standards or departed from
sound doctrine. It is more often true when the pastor has
been lazy, failed to plan his work or work the plan or
when he has demonstrated stubborness or a wrong attitude.
Dr. Earle C. Griffith said, "If you hold a position you are dogmatic, if I hold it it is simply being firm in the faith; if yoti are determined in a matter it is stubborness, but if I am determined in the same matter it is but an uncomprimising spirit". It is incumbent on any pastor as a leader in spiritual matters, to do some introspection in times of trouble and problems to see if he is in whole or in part a cause of the problem.
The church is not infallible; neither is the pastor.
Some men assume that all that was done by their
predecessors or successors was ill-advised, poor judgment
and so on. Good leadership arrived when they arrived, and
left when they left! Such arrogancy is not becoming of
servants of God.
On the other hand, there is a trend which is current, to undermine the Biblical authority of the office of a pastor. This brings into focus two essentials which must be recognized:
The role of a pastor is a matter of Divine appointment and calling and therefore, must be respected and honored. The role of a pastor carries Biblical responsibiltity, accountability, and qualifications, therefore, that respect and honor must be earned.
Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones has stated, "All problems which develop in a local church may be seen in essence in Corinthians. The problems described in I Corinthians 4 - 14 are the result of "carnality" in Chapter 3 and the carnality of Chapter 3
is the result of a desire for HUMAN PHILOSOPHY, Chapter 1." By human philosophy he did not mean classical Greek philosophy especially but any attempt to supersede~the authority of the Word of God by human opinion. This being so, there is need today for revival of Biblical authority. Authority is the corollary to verbal inspiration and sufficiency is the corollary to authority. Problems are created by carnality, not spirituality. There must be a return to the simple approach and concept that the Word of God alone is able to equip men or churches for the work to which God calls (11 Tim. 3:16,17; I Thess. 2:13; Phil. 4:9).
Illustration: Pastor on radio W.V. (Negative)
Church Board with many PHD (Positive)
No Christian should hold a brief for ignorance or look on learning with contempt. Every child of God should desire to be a tool sharpened and prepared for the Master's use. One ought never settle for second best in the service of Christ. On the other hand, our sufficiency is of God. There are no self-made men.
A study of Corinthians leads inexorably to the conclusion that the sufficiency to be sought by any pastor is of God and not of man.. It must be so.
Education is not non-spiritual but neither is ignorance spiritual. Where secular education comes into clash with Biblical fact or true spiritual perception. The Word of God must prevail. God has always used trained men, namely Moses, Luke, Paul. God, however, is not confined to using men whose training is a.
in the accepted and formal sense, namely James, Peter, John. Acts is filled with 8,008 remarkable conversions. We know who the eight are. We do not know who the 8,000 are. Queen Victoria gave public witness that she was glad the Bible said "Not many noble rather than not any noble." The work of the Lord is a spiritual ministry. Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned. The basic premise of discernment is knowledge of THE WORD (I Cor. 2:13 - 3:2; Heb. 5:13,14).
A frank recognition of these principles will lead to the conclusion that the Biuble is not a prime source of authority for the pastor and the church; it is the sole source of authority.
Illustration: Dr. William Bell Riley
The premise that the Bible is the sole authority for pastor and church is not only inclusive applying to all pastors and all churches, but it is also exclusive -excluding human authority, human wisdom and philosophy. Spiritual problems cannot be effectively and permanently met on a purely rationalistic or philosophic approach." This should throw light on all modern trends to treat problems as
though they were basically an age problem rather than a human problem; or to consider various types of personality and their traits rather than the. basic approach. to human nature by the power of God. A humanistic approach to human problems will leave human overtones. God's method is quite different. "Therefore. if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature..." we read in II Cor. 5:17.. In God's remedy there is overcoming power for intellect, emotion and will. One does not have to read far in Corinthians to learn that Paul repudiates in totality all earthly wisdom in treating spiritual problems.
I. THE PROBLEM CHURCH
A. The Birth of this church under Paul's ministry (Acts 18)
1. He reasoned with his hearers (18:4)
2. The Word of God was his authority (18:11)
3. The Word produced both conversion (8) and opposition (12)
B. The Cultural background of those in the church
1. Idolotrous, immoral, philosophical (I Cor. 6:9-11; I Cor. 5.1:
I Cor. 8:7)
2. Usage of word "Corinthianize"
C. The Problems inherent in the church
1. Related to cultural background
2. Related to depravity of man
3. Related to carnality of believer
D. A Partial Listing of the Problems which existed in that church
1. Division over human leadership (1:11-13)
(These leaders - all professing believers and all exculsive to that local church : Apollos - ''Intellectuals" - Cephas- "Legalist" - Paul by contrast (self-righteous).
2. Immaturity and carnality (3:1)
(What place does the WORD have in daily life in your church?
3. Consorious spirit (4:3)
4. Pride (4:6)
5. Rejection of divinely appointed authority (4:8-9)
6. Moral perversions (5:1)
7. Resorting to human courts (6:1)
8. Abuse of Christian liberty (6:12)
9. Failure to recognize the true nature of redemption and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (6:19,20)
10. Personal problems in married life (7)
11. Attack on apostolic office (9:1)
12. Neglecting support of God's servants (9:7-14)
13. Failure to practice life of self-discipline (9:24-28)
14. Failure to see God's provision for victory (10:13)
15. Breakdown of Divine order in home and church (11)
16. Abuse of spiritual gifts and lack of love (12,13)
17. Abuse of tongues (14)
(Problems created by a charismatic approach)
II. THE PASTORAL MINISTRY
A. As seen in the Scriptures as a whole
1. Elder (Presbuteros) (Titus 1:15) Relationship with God, spiritual maturity and knowledge of the Word.
2. Pastor (Poimen) (Eph. 4:11) Relationship to individual believers in the church.
3. Bishop (Episkopos) (Phil. 1:1) Relationship to church corporately - overseer.
B. Word Pictures in I and II Corinthians
The pastor should be:
1. Minister (Diakonos) (Il Cor. 3:6; 6:4) Appointed by God to serve.
2. Vessels (Skeuos) (Il Cor. 4:7) implement (Acts 9:15; II Tim. 2:21)
3. Ambassador (Presbeuo) (Il Cor. 5:20) elder, senior representative (Sanhedrin)
4. Steward (Oikonomos) (I Cor.4:1,2) manager, overseer, fiscal agent (Titus 1:7; I Peter 4:10; Luke 16:2)
5. Colaborer (Sunergos) (I Cor. 3:9) One who works with another, helper
6. Follower (Mimetes) (I Cor. 4:16; 11:1) One who imitates
7. Servants (Doulos) (Il Cor. 4:5) bond slave, one purchased, thus has given up right to personal opinion
8. Exhorter (Parakleleo) (Il Cor. 9:5) One called near to help. Note relation to same word "Comforter" in John 14:26.
9. A pastor is to be a student (Il Cor. 4:2), soldier (Il Cor. 10:4) and a sentinel (Il Cor. 11:4).
A MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST SHOULD BE ALL ThE ABOVE
"Apostle" (Apostolos) (I Cor. 9:1) Simple meaning - "One sent." More specific, one of twelve, who saw risen Lord and on whose witness early church founded. No apostles today. (Acts 1:22; Eph. 2:20)
A MINISTER OF CHRIST TODAY IS NOT AN APOSTLE - THE OFFICE CEASED.
"Castaway" (Adokimos) (I Cor. 9:27) Negative of (dokimos) accepted, approved, true. A castaway laid on shelf, worth1ess for God's service - rejected as a servant.
A MINISTER OF CHRIST SHOULD STRIVE BY GOD'S GRACE TO NOT BE THIS.
PASTORAL PRINCIPLES AND PROCEDURES
A comparison of I Cor. 1:18-29; I Cor. 2:1-8; II Cor. 2:16, 17; II Cor. 4:1,2,16 reveals the following convictions held by the Apostle Paul:
A. Not one of us is sufficient (in self) for the Lord's work.
B.. Our sufficiency is only by Divine enablement.
C. We must not mingle human philosophy with Divine revelation or human wisdom with God's wisdom.
D. We must not depend on excellency of speech or human means as a substititue for the power of the Holy Spirit.
THERE MUST BE A TOTAL REPUDIATION OF HUMAN WISDOM AS SUFFICIENT FOR ANY SPIRITUAL MINISTRY OR SERVICE.
THE MESSAGE MUST BE OF GOD- Divine Revelation
THE MAN MUST BE OF GOD Divine Calling
THE MEANS MUST BE OF GOD Divine Enablement
God uses the foolish, weak and base things of this world - earthen vessels of clay, but processed in the Potter's house at the hand of the Potter. "WE: HAVE THIS TREASURE IN EARTHEN VESSELS" (TI Cor. 4:7).
The Potter may use much formal training or little, but those whom He calls, He makes able ministers (Il Cor. 3:6). Failures cannot be blamed on God.
One needs only to scan history or observe the current scene and he will conclude that God uses men with formal training, and He also uses men with little formal training. The prime question is not how or where was the vessel prepared but has the vessel been prepared and has God done it?
This rules out pride and every last vestige of personal glory (I Cor. 1:29).
Attitudes are contagious. When pastors display this attitude, it will affect those to whom he ministers.
FOLLOWING IS A PARTIAL LISTING OF SOME QUALITIES WORTHY OF NOTICE.
1. Paul's ministry was Christ exalting (I Cor. 1:31)
2. Paul's ministry reflected Divine wisdom (1:21)
3. Paul's ministry gave great importance to the Word of God (3:2)
4. Paul's ministry never confused human opinion with Divine command (7:6)
5. Paul's ministry faithfully presented the believer's stewardship (9:11)
6. Paul's ministry was strong on exhortation (11:18-34)
7. Paul's ministry was a demonstration of God's love (I Cor. 13)
8. Paul's ministry was clear and without compromise (14:8)
9. Paul's ministry was not marked by confusion (14:33.)
10. Paul's ministry was challenging and encouraging (15:58)
11. Paul's ministry was marked by personal recognition, attention and appreciation of others (16:15-20)
12. Paul's ministry was marked by genuine comfort (TI Cor. 1:5)
13. Paul's ministry was marked by exhortation and forgiveness (2:10)
14. Paul's ministry was free from dishonesty (4:2)
15. Paul's ministry was performed in view of judgement day',(5:10)
16. Paul's ministry sought to remove all cause for stumbling (6:3)
17. Paul's ministry gave accent to Biblical separation (6:14-18)
18. Paul's ministry revealed a burden for the believer's maturity (7:1-3)
19. Paul's ministry presented total stewardship (8-9)
20. Paul's ministry was one of authority without being dictatorial (10)
21. Paul's ministry faithfully warned against error (11:1-4)
22. Paul's ministry was not sharp or inconsiderate (13:10)
23. Paul's ministry demonstrated a great passion for the edification of all believers (13:10)
These books display the need and practice of church discipline but not as a means of demonstrating power; rather of maintaining purity and recovering of those who are wayward.
I have conducted over 100 seminars across this country with more than 1,600 pastors attending. I have been in more than 650 churches and had more than 5,OOO interviews - 60% of which have been with pastors. The other 40% with board members, college administrators and teachers, mission administrators, missionaries and youth. I have heard the problems. I have observed success and failure; victory and enforced resignations of pastors. I have been aware of a multitude cf outside approaches seeking to solve the problems of the local church. I have concluded that many such efforts are humanistic approaches to solve problems created by a lack of accent on THE WORD OF GOD, in the preparation of the pastor, in the program of the church and the practice in the home.
A pastor may list all the problems faced in the church and then classify the problems. He will be amazed at the fact that almost all of them did exist at Corinth in essence. Paul not only failed to use human wisdom for the solution; he repudiated the very concept of the use of human wisdom in solving the problems.
He went to the highest authority - THE WORD OF GOD.
With current trends to classify problems by age or culture and treat the problems on a psychological approach or overcome them with a mass hysteria of superficial methods to produce a successful church and care for the needs of the people, we are impelled to remind God's servants that the Word of God is the tool God uses to make His servants able ministers and this same tool will in turn be used by God to make the church members able Christians and disciples. Man's problems are matters of the intellect, emotion and will, but the intellect as related to Cod, emotions as related to God, and will as related to God. When every one of these areas is in proper relationship to the Lord, there will be soundness in thinking, purity in love and purpose in life. The basic problem is spiritual no matter which of the three areas is in need. The Word of God is sufficient to meet eachneed.
Movements have sprung up to correct the problems created by lack of Bible authority, exposition, teaching and study, lack of Bible authority, submission and practice.
The Bible is God's answer to church factions,worldlystandards, moral perversion, broken marriage relations, legal problems, humanism, modernism, the Jesus Movement, ecumenism, inclusive evangelism, the Charismatic Movement, and whatever other problem may arise.
"WHO IS SUFFICIENT FOR THESE THINGS" (II Cor. 2:16)
"OUR SUFFICIENCY IS OF COD WHO ALSO HATH ,MADE US ABLE MINISTERS" ( II Cor. 3:5-6)
STUDY BY THE LATE DR. E.L. MATTHEWS