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Friday, December 23, 2011
APOSTOLIC TRADITION: NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN CLERGY AND LAITY
Probably the most prevalent and damaging tradition of men among churches of the Lord’s people today is the distinction between groups called “the clergy” and “the laity”. According to this tradition “the clergy” are those normally referred to as “the ministers”, “servants of the Lord” those who are “ordained”, those who are in “full-time Christian work” and who are normally paid for their ministry or service and many are given titles such as “Reverend” or “Father”.
By way of contrast “the laity”, according to this tradition of men, are those who are “ministered to”, “served” by the clergy, “unordained”, employed in “secular work”, and if they do any service in the church it is usually as unpaid volunteers.
But such a tradition was not passed down by the Lord Jesus or the apostles! Rather they clearly taught that the laity (The Greek word LAOS) or “the people” of God and the clergy (the Greek word KLEROS) or God’s “inheritance”, “heritage” or “appointed lot” were one and the same group of people!!!
The following are just a few examples where God, through His apostles and prophets, refers to believers as “my people” (
LAOS) or “the people ( ) of God”: LAOS
Romans 9:25) As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people (
LAOS), which were not my people ( ); and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26) And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people ( LAOS ); there shall they be called the children of the living God. LAOS
2 Corinthians 6:16) And what agreement hath the
with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people ( temple of God ). LAOS
1 Peter 2:9) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people (LAOS); that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10) Which in time past were not a people (LAOS), but are now the people (LAOS) of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
All believers are not only called God’s people or
, they are also included in His inheritance or KLEROS! LAOS
The Lord Jesus, speaking to the apostle Paul told him that believers would not only receive forgiveness of sins but also inheritance (KLEROS) among them which are sanctified by faith! (Acts 26:15-18
The apostle Paul, writing to the church at Colosse, told them that the Father had made them partakers of the inheritance (KLEROS) of the saints in light. (Colossians 1:9-17)
And the apostle Peter, writing to elders of the churches in I Peter 5:1-3, clearly instructed them that they were not to be “lords over God's heritage (KLEROS)”, but rather to be “examples to the flock.” Thus we see that, according to the scriptures and apostolic tradition, the laity and the clergy are not two different groups of people but are two terms used of all believers!
Not only are all believers both laity and clergy, but all are ordained of God! The Lord Jesus, in John 15:16 said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.”
Not only are we all clergy which have been ordained by the Lord Jesus but we also are gifted by God for ministry! Every believer is equipped for ministry to others in the Body and have thus been made stewards of the manifold grace of God. “As every man (each one) hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (I Peter 4:10,11)
The apostles not only taught that all believers are God’s clergy, that they are ordained, that they are ministers but they taught that all believers are also holy and royal priests! See I Peter 2:5&9
The main reason why “burnout” among Christian “pastors/clergymen” has reached epidemic proportions is because this tradition of men has placed such a heavy burden on such leaders which God never intended that they should carry! Ministry is designed by God to be shared by all the members in the body, not just one!
According to apostolic tradition, church leaders were never to be hired by the flock, saddled with all the responsibilities of ministry and fired when they did not meet the high expectations placed upon them!
Rather elders (a plurality of men who are “home-grown” rather than called from elsewhere) are to be recognized by God-given qualifications (I Timothy 3 and Titus 1) and are to serve together as they oversee the flock, to work with their own hands to meet their own needs and minister to the weak among the flock. (Acts 20:28-35)
When ever God’s simple instructions for His flock are obeyed, both sheep and shepherds flourish. But when traditions of men replace apostolic traditions great damage is done to the shepherds and great havoc is worked among the sheep! Oh may we have courage to repent of traditions of men and return to the simplicity of apostolic traditions for all of our church practices!
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