Responsibilities & Authority of the Elders

Fred R. Coulter—August 16, 2008

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Let's review the responsibilities of an elder, because we're going to talk about today mostly concerning elders from this point of view:

With the congregation, whether assembled together or individually in their homes before they assemble together, the rule of Christ in their heart is the rule! That is the Government of God direct to them.

When we come together then we all have a shared responsibility in our conduct and in what we do. If everyone is loving God and serving Him from their heart the way that they should, you will find that there will be a great increase in:

  • knowledge
  • love
  • understanding
  • cooperation

You will find that in the sermons that are given, there is hardly any correction because none is needed!

I know that in our former church affiliation, the man who was in charge of the ministry in that hierarchical church said that, 'you must give an attack sermon every month or two just to keep the brethren in line.' That's not the way that it should be!

You have to teach the love of God! Everyone loving God, having the Spirit of God, serving God and striving to overcome, when we come together we have a unique relationship with each other by God's Holy Spirit. It's something that must come from within by God's Spirit, not only for all the brethren, but whoever are the leaders and teachers. On that basis the elders and teachers are more like coaches on the sidelines.

A coach is to inspire all the players to do the best that they can do, and to keep everything in harmony and cooperation among all the players. Likewise with the Church in harmony and cooperation with all the brethren.

First of all, let's review what the responsibilities for everyone, including the elders. What is the first responsibility to always do and maintain:

  • Love God the Father and Jesus Christ
  • Always uphold the Truth of God

And when you preaching and teaching, rightly divide the Word of God, God's Way!

Do not ever, ever, ever under any circumstances—be it any of the brethren or any elders or teachers—pervert the Word of God to use it to drive your own agenda!

Many Churches of God justify their hierarchical government by going to Exo. 18, but that is not the command of God. It was the advice of Jethro the father-in-law of Moses on how to control the whole group of people of the children of Israel coming out of Egypt:

  • who are carnal
  • who are rebellious
  • who don't have the Spirit of God

They need that kind of control!

Did they yet have the understanding of God's Law? No, they hadn't even gotten to Mt. Sinai, yet, to even hear it! Except they did hear what Moses taught them. Did they ever have the Holy Spirit of God? Never! That's why you can't take that form of government within the structure of Israel and say that this is what we use in our Church because it's in the Bible.

There are a lot of things in the Bible that we need to discern that are not spiritual and we should not do. Just like we need to discern that there are a lot of things in the Bible that are actually discussing and talking about sin from the point of view that we should not do it. Just because it's in the Bible, it should not be done!

  • Yield to the Holy Spirit

That is to be led of the Holy Spirit. That's why we saw in the qualification for an elder in 1-Tim. 3, not self-willed!

That's why Jesus gave the example before He was crucified, not My will be done, but Your will be done! Isn't that the very first thing that we pray about in the model prayer after we glorify God? Our Father, Who is in heaven, Holy is Your name! Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! God's will is constantly being done on earth everywhere in the carnal nations of the world and in His Church.

We're going to see that God gives a lot of latitude so that the brethren and the people in the Church will come to learn the lessons that they need to correct themselves. If they don't then God is going to intervene more powerfully. That's why we have yield to the Spirit of God! 2-Tim. 1 where Paul tells Timothy to 'stir up the Spirit of God that is in you by the laying on of my hands.' That is a daily responsibility of anyone who is going to be an elder as well as anyone who has the Spirit of God!

All you have to do is read about the Laodiceans, which you've heard all your life, but nevertheless, even after seeing it operate in full blossom somehow we don't consider ourselves that.

  • Lead and rule his family

There's a difference in the family, because you're also dealing with carnal children who do not have the Spirit of God. Yet, they should learn to obey in the letter of the Law as long as they live within the household.

  • The love and service of the brethren

Unless you have the first four in hand, and are doing them…

These are the personal responsibilities that are applied to elders, and also apply to everyone in the congregation.

Points of Responsibility & Authority for Elders

Now we will look at some of the authority that a minister has. We will look at this authority a little more today to see how Paul used his to see how he instructed Titus, and how it was to be used.

We've also gone over the things concerning settling disputes with Matt. 18; 1-Cor. 6; and we also have to understand that God is not the author of confusion!  So, there should not be confusion within the Church.

  • Feed the flock

Always remembering that all the brethren belong to God! They do not belong to any minister!

  • he does not own them
  • he did not call them
  • he did not give them the Holy Spirit

though he

  • prayed for them
  • counseled them
  • laid hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit

Nevertheless, he is the feed the flock constantly with the Word of God!

  • He is to edify or up-build the Church

The Church is also to edify itself! In other words, the behavior of each one is also to edify the whole Church.

Eph. 2—we will something that I very interesting on what Christ is doing, because as long as the ministers is teaching and preaching the Word of God and edifying the brethren with the Word of God, it is Christ with His Spirit that is making it work.

Ephesians 2:18: "For through Him we both have direct access by one Spirit to the Father."

That's from where everything flows; that's where all the authority comes from: the Father, Jesus Christ on down to all the brethren and elders! We will see later that even the Apostle Paul said that 'he supposed that God put the apostles last'—which sounds a little like Matt. 20 that if you're going to be the greatest you're going to be the servant of all.

Verse 19: "So then, you are no longer aliens and foreigners; but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of the household of God. You are being built up [the root word of edify, to build] on the foundation of the apostles and prophets…" (vs 19-20).

Prophets in this case are not necessarily like the Old Testament prophets, because there were New Testament prophets as you find in Acts. 15: Silas, Silvanus; prophets in the New Testament give a foretelling of the Word of God, not necessarily a foretelling of future events. They do from time to time on that as well. But the prophet within the Church is to give inspired teachings from the Word of God to uplift and edify the brethren.

What we're going to do is see all of this put together in a very wonderful way that God has devised. But remember, it cannot work unless there is conversion, the Spirit of God, and the love of God in everyone involved. We're also going to learn about the authority to take care of the renegades, because there are those who like to come in and cause problems. We will see how God gives full authority to take care of that!

"…Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone" (v 20).

I was talking to someone who had called the office and he was so glad; he had been using the website for a couple of months and he'd been in some of the other Churches of God, going back and forth and trying to understand what's going on. He said, 'I never heard the voice of Christ in those churches; not that your voice is the voice of Christ.'

  • But if you teach what Christ teaches what are you hearing? The voice of Christ!
  • What does it say in John 10? My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they know Me.'

It is special spiritual category that we are in!

I think that if we understand that, that will motivate us more in developing the love of God, yielding to the Spirit of God, growing in grace and knowledge the way God wants us to.

Verse 21: "In Whom all the building, being conjointly fitted together… [God is doing something greater beyond what we see or think] …is increasing into a Holy temple in the Lord; in Whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit" (vs 21-22). That's the whole goal and purpose of the Church!

As we will see a little later on, the Protestant Churches are being destroyed by their 'mega' churches, absolutely destroyed! They ran a survey concerning health benefits for ministers and retirement for ministers, and they found outside of the 'mega' churches, the average Protestant congregation is right around 100.

Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Southern California is one of the leading destroyers of Protestant churches by his 'purpose driven' church, and it's all carnal! It's not spiritual and very much like Joel Osteen, but Joel Osteen is sweet; except his wife because she's suing an airline because there was spot on the seat' it offended her!

You also have to understand that Satan will use any means he can to destroy anyone who has the knowledge of God, or some of the knowledge of God. We are going to see the Protestant churches will be virtually a very ineffectual method of 'religion.' Just like the big shopping centers, they killed all the family businesses. So, the big 'mega' churches are killing all the small churches, which is where you will find more adherence to the Word of God even though they're Protestant.

Ephesians 4:15—here is how all of us are to do this: "But holding the Truth in love…" To be:

  • using it
  • holding it
  • guarding it
  • supporting it

"…may in all things… [the whole purpose of a church] …grow up into Him Who is the Head, even Christ from Whom all the Body, fitly framed and compacted together by that which every joint supplies…" (vs 15-16).

Everyone in the Church of God, with the Holy Spirit of God, is important to God and important to the congregation, fellowship group, and everyone is to be growing in grace and knowledge so that we are supplying for the church and our combined meetings together the things of:

  • love
  • hope
  • faith
  • encouragement
  • up-building

Especially in the evil days that we are in!

  • Where are you going to get it?
  • Where are you going to go to find it?

If you can't find it within the fellowships and congregations of the Churches of God, I do believe that God is going to judge very severely concerning that, because this is what it's supposed to be.

"…according to its inner working in the measure of each individual part, is making the increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (v 16).

That says an awful lot! The whole Government of God is based upon love. It's not based upon order or carnal regimentation. Yes, we're to have order, because we love God!

It's not just the elders job alone, because if everyone just looks to the elders to do it, then you have looking to men instead of looking to God!

  • Do not allow false doctrines

That's needs to be handled directly and firmly. If it's a matter of understanding Truth, then fine. Investigate it, search it out, research it, prove it—because we're to prove all things—that's a different story.

Let's see what happens when the members in the fellowship group or congregation are not fulfilling their responsibility. It affects everyone else. The reason that we have 1st & 2nd Corinthians is so that we can understand the problems that are within the Churches of God because of too much carnality and false doctrine. Haven't we seen all of these things take place? Yes, indeed!

2-Corinthians 11:1: "I would that you might bear with me in a little nonsense; but indeed, do bear with me. For I am jealous over you with the jealousy of God because I have espoused you to one husband, so that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For indeed, if someone comes preaching another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive, or a different gospel, which you did not accept, you put up with it as something good" (vs 1-4).

We see it on Fox News, it's called fair and balanced! If it isn't the truth, why do it? So, not to allow that. Let's see what else we find in the Epistle to Titus. It is also evidenced here by Paul to Titus that some people are more difficult to work with. Some people come in just to cause trouble.

  • What do you do?
  • Are you so lovey-dovey that you don't have a backbone or spine?

Even among the members!

Titus 1:9: "Holding steadfastly to the faithful Word… [for those who would be elders] …according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, so that he may be able both to encourage with sound doctrine…"

In edifying the Church: doctrine, doctrine, doctrine! As we went through Timothy, there is sound doctrine and there is false doctrine!

"…and to convict those who are gainsayers" (v 9)—convicting them of their own ignorance and some of the propositions that they bring up!

Verse 10: "For there are many rebellious and vain talkers and deceivers, especially those from the circumcision party." They had a lot of trouble with the Jews.

I saw a clip on the news that the Orthodox Jewish community is trying to setup a 'holy orthodox kosher community' within Brooklyn. One of the things that this group would do is sit down for their Friday night meal and the theme of it was 'create your own Bible.'

  • What did they mean by that?
  • Sit down and re-write it? No!

It means that since it's the Sabbath, you have your Sabbath meal the way that you want it, so you create your own Bible. Why have a Sabbath meal:

  • if it's not to honor God?
  • If it's not to thank God?

Then it showed all the traditions and everything that they had to go through to try and make that community kosher. Putting down what looks good in your own eyes!

What does that remind you of? Gen. 4, the way of Cain! That is you claim the name of God, you come to honor God your way instead of God's Way, and demand that God accept it! That's the way of Cain!

Verse 11: "Whose mouths must be stopped…" We will see later on that even means by expulsion from the congregating with the brethren!

"…who are subverting whole households… [that where they had a lot of their churches] …teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of selfish gain" (v 11). That can come in a number of ways:

  • vanity
  • people adulating and looking to them
  • having people follow them
  • trying to obtain money, goods and services

All those are ways of carnal gain!

Verse 12: "One from among them, even one of their own prophets, said, 'Cretans are always liars, and evil, wild beasts, and lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true. For this reason you must rebuke them severely, that they may be sound in the faith" (vs 12-13).

That's the only reason for rebuke, but it shows that when there is:

  • not the conversion
  • not the depth of understanding
  • not the yielding to God
  • not being led by the Holy Spirit of God

then you're going to have this take place!

  • What if you have an elder who is cahoots with these carnal, selfish people?
  • What is going to happen to the congregation?

At that point, those who are truly converted, if there is nothing that can be done to remedy it, you leave!

Verse 14: "Not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men, which turn away from the Truth."

So, not only do you have Jewish myths, you can have Catholic myths, Protestant myths, Buddha myths, Hindu myths, theistic myths, and new age religion! All the commandments of men can never, ever, ever develop spiritual character!

Showing the attitude of attitude and conversion, v 15: "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving…"—troublemakers coming in to take over (3-John) even forbidding the Apostle John! Imagine that in his old age, people looked at him and said:

All the other apostles have died and he's the last one around here, and we don't know too much about him, whether he's still doing what God wants or not. He gave this book of Revelation and nothing that he gave has taken place, so we don't know about him. We've got to move on with new and better things!

Obviously, I'm just paraphrasing Demetrius in 3-John, who would not even allow the Apostle John to come in.

"…nothing is pure; rather, both their minds and consciences are defiled" (v 15)—because they are not converted! That's why it's essential with the Spirit of God, the love of God, the Truth of God all combined together that we are:

  • up-built
  • edified
  • serving God with all our heart, mind, soul and being

All of these other things God doesn't want around! How many times were we bothered with those?

We've seen them come in very sweet, very good, dynamic personalities and wonderful speakers. But do they have the Spirit of God? That's the test!

Verse 16: "They personally profess to know God, but in their works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient, and reprobate unto every good work."

Not just the carnal good works of the exterior things that you see, but reprobate to the good work that God is doing in the mind!

There are more instructions in Titus 2; read verses 1-9. Read all of 1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus.

Titus 2:10—talking about slaves: "Not misappropriating anything…"

If we're all slaves of God, that should also apply to all of us in our dealings with God.

"…but showing all good faithfulness; so that they may do credit to the doctrine of our Savior God in everything. For the grace of God, which brings salvation for all men, has appeared; teaching us that, having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live moderately and righteously and Godly in this present world" (vs 10-12).

That is something that is every day, every minute of every day. Think about that for a minute. Being converted and having the Spirit of God, and looking forward to being in the Kingdom of God is not that 'I go to church every Sabbath and I'm going to make it. No! It is a complete package for a whole way of living!

Verse 13: "Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our Savior and great God Jesus Christ."

It's kind hard to figure how that some people say that He was not God before He became human.

Verse 14: "Who gave Himself for us, so that He might redeem us from all lawlessness, and might purify for Himself a unique people, zealous of good works. Speak these things, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you" (vs 14-15).

Whenever it's necessary to exert the authority, it's necessary to do so, because God holds the elder responsible, the teacher responsible, as well as each individual in the fellowship group that they are to:

  • guard the Truth
  • love the Truth
  • don't let these things get a hold

If necessary, "…rebuke with all authority…."

Sometimes you just have to say to some people, 'Since you believe this, it might be best if you just not attend.' If they don't want to do that, then you tell them that they're not welcome. If they don't want to do that, then you have the whole congregation tell them, 'You're not welcome.'

They are not to allow false doctrines! They are to guard the doctrine, the Truth!

  • Pray for the brethren (tie in Eph. 1)
  • Anoint the sick

That's very important. I had a call from a woman who had a real spell with her pleurisy and she prayed for a couple of hours, and her husband prayed and couldn't get rid of the pain. It was really a terrible situation that they were going through, so finally at 1:20 in the morning they called me and I immediately prayed for her and the pain ceased.

In talking to her later, she said, 'How come I prayed and God didn't take away the pain? But when you did it went away?' I said because it says to 'call for the elders of the Church.' Otherwise why have the elders of the Church anoint the sick.

  • Correct

Correction is a very interesting thing! The best way to correct is to inspire people to want to change, and you do that through the love and Spirit of God.

Let's see how Paul used his apostolic authority and the way that he pleaded with the brethren first. He knew there were a lot of problems there. All you have to do is read 1-Cor. and they had lots of problems: 'I'm of Paul, I'm of Apollos, I'm of Christ…' Paul wrote them and said, 'You're carnal! Is Christ divided? You're following men!' They had problems with:

  • incest
  • lack of judgment
  • fornication
  • things sacrificed to idols
  • those who didn't have the knowledge of God
  • some were saying that the resurrection had already past

when the resurrection is the whole basis for true Christianity! Paul is saying:

I've gone through a lot; I've suffered a lot but we were comforted. It's for your comfort and everything like this so that you can be competent.

Paul was traveling and he really intended to come to them, but he was able, and he was explaining why:

2-Corinthians 1:15: "And with this confidence I had previously planned to come to you so that you might have a second benefit; and after coming by you, I intended to travel through to Macedonia, and to come again from Macedonia to you, and then be accompanied by you to Judea…. [with all of the relief goods because of the famine] …Now then, in planning this journey, was I light-minded? Or are the things that I resolve to do motivated by the flesh, that there should be with me wavering between yes and no?" (vs 15-18).

Sounds like political campaigns! Isn't it interesting that everybody loves their own lies, but they expect politicians to tell the truth! Remember Dan. 4, God places over the nations the 'basest of men.' The longer you live the more you're going to see that that is true. Rare is any of the leaders of the nations composed of those who have real true Godly moral character. But Paul is saying that that's not the way that it is:

Verse 18: "But God is faithful, so that our word to you was not yes and no. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who was preached by us among you (by me and Silvanus and Timothy), was not first yes and then no, but in Him has always been yes. For whateverpromises of God there are, in Him is the yes, and in Him the Amen, with glory to God by us" (vs 18-20).

Notice where Paul is pointing them all the time! This is what is so important. He's not pointing them to himself. Later he has to do that to prove a point.

Verse 21: "But He Who establishes us with you in Christ, and Who has anointed us, is God."

Everyone who has the Holy Spirit of God has been anointed with the Spirit of God! All of those who are serving as elders in whatever capacity have also been anointed by God with a greater portion of the Holy Spirit—and should be—for teaching and everything like this. So, it is God behind it all!

Verse 22: "Who has also sealed us… [including himself] …and has given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." That is the gift of eternal life by begettal from the Father so that we can:

  • develop the mind of Christ
  • develop the character of God
  • walk in the good works of God

Verse 23: "But I call upon God to bear witness of my intentions, that in order to spare you I did not yet come to Corinth."

Paul knew when he got there, if there wasn't repentance he'd have to do an awful lot of correcting. What he did is give them a space of time to change! That's why he sent Timothy and Titus to them to try and help them along before he arrived. We'll see how he exercises his authority toward the end of the book.

Verse 24: "Not that we exercise lordship over your faith…" That is a key and important thing! Who is Lord over all of us? Christ!

"…but because we are working with you to increase your joy. For you stand by faith" (v 24).

Here is the Apostle Paul—the one who worked harder than any of the apostles, wrote more books of the New Testament than any of the others—went through all the things that he went through. Remember that when he was called the message form Christ was that, 'I'm going to show him the things that he must suffer in serving Me.' And Christ especially chose Paul for many, many different reasons, which is another whole topic.

(go the next track)

Let's see how Paul explained himself to the Corinthians. This is all part of the correction. Notice how he leads up to it, and he makes sure that he establishes his apostleship in the way that God wants it established: one of service and help, yet, authority, strength and power at the same time to accomplish what God wants done.

Now after tell them in 1-Cor. 2 that 'what we are teaching is spiritual things and you really need to use the Spirit of God to understand it. Otherwise, you're going to end up being completely carnal the way you are now.'

1 Corinthians 3:1: "And, I, brethren, was not able to speak to you as to those who are spiritual, but as to those who are carnal—even as to babes in Christ."

What we need to understand is that what Paul is teaching here is that in order to come to the point of what God wants us to be, we have to grow. They have to respond to the teaching. Paul obviously was teaching them, but they were not responding, because they were looking to Paul, to Peter, to Apollos, etc.

Verse 2: "I gave you milk to drink, and not meat; for you were not yet able to receive spiritual meat; and neither are you able now, for you are still carnal…." (vs 2-3).

  • What is the evidence of carnality when you walk into a congregation or a fellowship group?
  • What is the evidence of it?

I remember we got this letter from a woman who was going to this large Church of God in Ohio and she go fed up with everything and walked out and visited our fellowship group, and she was amazed. She couldn't believe that everything was in harmony and there was:

  • love
  • concern
  • intelligent teaching

We had an elder there—Marlin Fannin—but she wrote and said that it was amazing that everything was so nice, loving and smooth. It was a wonderful Sabbath and no one 'in charge.'

 'I am in charge!'—that's not how you are in charge! A pronouncement doesn't make it so! Here's the evidence of carnality:

"…For since envy… [Who is going to be ordained a deacon or elder?] …and contention and divisions are among you, are you not carnal?…." (vs 2-3). Tie in Phil. 2; we are all to grow to have the mind of Christ; that is the whole goal!

If we are doing that, what is that going to do? That's going to bring us the Spirit of God even more, and eliminate contentions and divisions! When carnality happens:

"…And are you not walking according to human ways?" (v 3). Yes!

How do you control a carnal church? With command and control because you can't control it with love, because you can't trust the people because you want to rule! In order to keep control:

  • you spy on them
  • you threaten them
  • you intimidate them

Paul never did any one of these things! He warned them, after he thoroughly showed what needed to be done.

Verse 4: "When someone says, 'I am of Paul,' and another one says, 'I am of Apollos,' are you not carnal?"

Paul didn't want the to follow him, but only as he followed Christ. Here's what Paul has done; this is how he has exerted his authority. He did not come in and pound his fist on the pulpit, shout, yell and scream at the people, 'I am God's only apostle! And all of you are a bunch of dumb sheep!'

I remember sitting in a congregation when it was told just like that! I thought to myself: God does not expect us to remain dumb sheep! We're to grow up in Christ, and He is the Lamb of God!

No, Paul didn't do that. He didn't come and say, 'Don't you know who I am?' No! just the opposite! He wants to make a point.

Verse 5: "Who then is Paul? And who is Apollos?…." Just like everybody else, you can die in 'the snap of the fingers' if you don't have any air to breathe.

Isn't it amazing the arrogance and the conceit of men when they could expire any instant? It's incredible! Who are they?

"…They are but ministers through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to each one. I planted and Apollos watered, but God gave the increase" (vs 5-6).

Whenever there is any teaching and anything that is done, you read and study the Word of God, and God gives the increase spiritually, internally!

John 6:45: "It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.'…."

Yes, I can teach you, we can go through the Word of God and I can teach you, but I have to teach you in a way that you know and understand, and is consistent with the way the Word of God should be preached.

Who is doing the teaching as you hear, listen and read the words? God is doing the teaching! These are the words of God!

1 Corinthians 3:7: "Therefore, neither is he who plants anything, nor he who waters; for it is God Who gives the increase. Now, he who plants and he who waters are one…" (vs 7-8). They have:

  • one goal
  • one mission
  • one attitude
  • one service

to up-build the Church!

"…but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor" (v 8). This applies to Paul and Apollos, which means at the resurrection!

Verse 9: "For we are God's fellow workers…"

  • God is working
  • Paul is working
  • the brethren are working

Altogether, notice the combination here!

"…and you are God's husbandry… [the vine and the husbandman, as Jesus gave example; husbandry comes from the root word 'edify'] …even God's building…. [he himself didn't claim anyone] …As a wise architect, according to the grace of God that was given to me, I have laid the foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each one take heed how he builds upon it" (vs 9-10). You can apply that two ways:

  • how the people are being taught
  • how the brethren are responding and building in their own lives

We saw how that it is all to be edifying of itself together!

Verse 11: "For no one is able to lay any other foundation besides that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ." There is no other foundation but Jesus Christ!

  • Many evangelicals say that Jesus only preached to the Jews, and the writings of the Apostle Paul—not all of them—give such and advanced theology that we don't have to pay any attention to the rest of the Bible.
  • In the Churches of God with a long history going back, what makes you think that the one that you held to be an apostle, who supposedly restored 18 things in the Church, that's all that you now follow because he is long dead. You are worshipping a man!

{note sermon series: Invisible Idol/Visible Man} I can guarantee you that there are more than 18 things in the Bible that we need to follow. If you carefully examine those 18 things, you're going to see that there's a lot of self and carnality and wrong conclusion in those 18 things. If you follow those you need to ask yourself:

  • Are you building wood, hay and stubble?
  • Are you putting a man as your idol?

One sermon that I kept track of, the number of times that this preacher named the 'great apostle' vs the times he named Jesus Christ, it was, I think, 111 times he named the apostle, and it was less than 20 that he named Jesus Christ. What was he building on? A man!

Verse 11: "For no one is able to lay any other foundation besides that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now, if anyone builds upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble" (vs 11-12)—a combined effort!

Whatever the teaching is it's going to be either gold, silver or precious stone—with God's Spirit in developing character, working with God or it's going to be build on the principles of men, which are wood, hay and stubble.

Verse 13: "The work of each one shall be manifested…" God is going to try every single one, and I don't know of a single one in any Church of God that has not been tried in their faith, whether they believe and love God or not.

"…for the day of trial will declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall prove what kind of work each one's is" (v 13).

If you have the character of gold, silver and precious stone, then you're going to survive every trial and improve! Gold is improved, silver is improved and precious stones are improved with fire! As a matter of fact, that's how precious stones are made!

Verse 14: "If the work that anyone has built endures, he shall receive a reward. If the work of anyone is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet, as through fire" (vs 14-15).

Then Paul comes to a very important point, which we have reiterated over and over again that gets to the Government of God in the Church of God.

Verse 16: "Don't you understand that you are God's temple, and that the Spirit of God is dwelling in you?…. [that's the whole purpose] …If anyone defiles the Temple of God…" (vs 16-17).

Paul looked upon all the brethren, including himself, as part of the spiritual Temple of God. Tie in Eph. 2 & 4.

"…God shall destroy him because the Temple of God is Holy, which temple you are" (v 17). Therefore, you don't:

  • lie
  • cheat
  • steal
  • commit adultery
  • have idols
  • deal in demons
  • deal in sexual immorality

All of those things were problems with the Corinthians!

Verse 18: "Let no one deceive himself…." As we have said, the human brain lies to itself! Even Dr. Amen in the book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen M.D.—and he has another book Make a Good Brain Great—says that the first thing the human brain does is lie to itself!That's human nature! {note sermon series: Heart/Mind Connection}

Paul says, v 18: "Let no one deceive himself…."

He's saying that 'you're carnal and you're going to deceive yourself you better wake up and don't be deceived.

"…If anyone among you thinks himself to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, so that he may be wise in God's sight" (v 18).

What are all the religions—even the Christian religions—of this world founded upon? Philosophy! The wisdom of men!

  • Wisdom in the Greek is 'sophia'
  • Philosophy is 'philosophia'

Get rid of all that! True wisdom is found in the Word of God!

Verse 19: "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God…" Think about that! Everything that men do comes crashing down! {tie in Rom. 1 where they declared that they were wise and God didn't exist!}

"…for it is written, 'He entraps the wise in their own craftiness'" (v 19)—always!

Watch some of these big, super-smart people and "…He traps them in their own craftiness." The greatest trapping of the wise in their own craftiness in entire world is the coming mark of the beast! Just think about that! A perfect system of man:

  • they can control everybody
  • they know wherever you are
  • they know what they're buying
  • they know where you're going
  • they can control your thoughts

What's going to happen? Christ is going to return and destroy the whole system, and entrap them in their own destruction! You can never, never, never get around God!

Verse 20: "And again, 'The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.'"

Paul is making a point here, a point of applying the kind of correction and authority that he needs, but you can see the approach in how he does it. Completely different from what you find in most churches.

Verse 21: "Therefore, do not let anyone boast in men; for all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come—all are yours; and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (vs 21-23).

Now Paul comes with correction, and notice how he sets the stage! All of 1-Cor. 1-34 comes for the final step before the correction comes in 1-Cor. 5. Notice how much time Paul spends on that.

He's going to give them some pretty strong correction here:

1-Corinthians 4:1: "So then, let every man regard us as ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."

A steward is someone who works with another's property to be wholly and absolutely accountable for every bit of it for the profit of the owner.

Verse 2: "Beyond that, it is required of stewards that one be found faithful."

That's why it says that if you're unfaithful in the least, you're be unfaithful in much! He who is faithful in the least shall be faithful in much! What are you going to do if you're in unfaithful in the least? You're not going to receive eternal life! So, we're all stewards! Everyone is a steward of God's Spirit! He's given it to you.

  • What are you doing with it?
  • How are you growing?
  • How are you overcoming?
  • Are you learning?
  • Are you exercising?

All those who are teachers, elders are stewards to teach the Word of God; stewards over God's property, which all the brethren are God's property, they don't belong to the minister!

Then Paul bring out something that's very important, v 3: "But to me it is an insignificant matter that I am judged by you, or by man's standard; and neither do I judge myself." How do we judge ourselves?

  • by the Word of God
  • by the Truth of God
  • by being honest

Verse 4: "Now, I am not conscious of anything against myself, yet, I am not justified by this…"—because you're doing what you're expected to do, aren't you justified? Of course not!

"…for the One Who is judging me is the Lord. Therefore, do not judge anything before the time…" (vs 4-5).

That's what happens when carnal people are trying to be right, they're judging this and that, comparing this and that. All you have to do is watch any of the arguments on television concerning the candidates, or concerning any issue.

"…wait until the Lord comes…" (v 5). They were expecting Him in their lifetime! They didn't understand that He was coming later.

"…Who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the motives of all hearts; and then shall each one receive praise from God" (v 5).

In other words, stop judging what you think are the thoughts of other brethren, because you don't know the thoughts of other brethren. Paul is telling them to quit trying to judge my thoughts, because 'you don't know what I'm thinking!'

Verse 6: "Now these things, brethren, I have applied to Apollos and myself for your sakes; that in us you may learn not to think of men beyond what is written, so that no one among you is puffed up on behalf of one of us against the other." Politics! That's what he's talking about here!

Verse 7: "For what makes you superior to others? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you also received it, why are you boasting as if you did not receive it?"

Notice how Paul gives them correction by being cynical toward their ideas:

Verse 8: "Now you are satiated. Now you have been enriched.You have reigned without us…. [already have it made] …And I would that you did reign, so that we also might reign with you. For I suppose that God has made us apostles last, as it were appointed to death; for we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and tomen. We are fools for the sake of Christ…" (vs 8-10)—though you have the 'wise' false teachers, as he talks about later on!

"…but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are glorious, but we are without honor" (v 10). Then Paul says, 'Look, I want you to understand our circumstances here:

Verse 11: "To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and wander without a home; and we labor, working with our own hands. When railed at, we bless; when persecuted, we bear it; when reviled, we entreat; for unto this day we are as the refuse and the off-scouring of the world" (vs 11-13).

Now notice why he says all of this, because he wants them, first of all, to focus on Christ, the whole purpose of the ministry and teaching, and their attitude and what they are doing.

Verse 14: "I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but as my beloved children I warn you." Now he starts bring in the authority, and will see more about this authority a little later on!

Verse 15: "For you might have ten thousand tutors in Christ, but you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I did beget you through the Gospel. Therefore, I am exhorting you to be imitators of me" (vs 15-16). 'As I follow Christ!' (1-Cor. 11)

Verse 17: "For this cause I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways that are in Christ, exactly as I teach everywhere in every church."

This is important to understand for anyone who is looking for a church:

  • What about this church?
  • What about that church?
  • He didn't say this to the Thessalonians!
  • He didn't say this to he Ephesians!

What did Paul say? Whatever is in any of his epistles is what he taught in every single one of the churches! Now he get to the point:

Verse 18: "Now, some of you are puffed up… [carnal, arrogant, vain and running around] …as though I were not coming to you… [he's warning them] …but I shall come to you shortly, if the Lord wills; and I will know not merely the words of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the Kingdom of God is not in words, but in power…. [he gives them a choice] …What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of meekness?" (vs 18-21).

Then in 1-Cor. 5 Paul says to start taking care of these problems:

  • incest
  • improper judgment
  • sexual immorality
  • eating things sacrifice to idols

1-Cor. 9-16—all of the correction that is there

This is very instructive on how Paul did the correcting. He came down very hard on them after:

  • he laid the groundwork
  • he gave the choice
  • he showed the options
  • he showed them right and wrong

Then he explained about all of his troubles and difficulties.

2-Corinthians 2:14: "But thanks be to God, Who always leads us triumphant in Christ…"

Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

2-Corinthians 2:14: "…and manifests the fragrance of His knowledge through us in every place. For we are Christ's sweet perfume to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to those who are perishing, we are a stench of death unto death… [hated] …but to those who are being saved, we are a fragrance of life unto life. And who is qualified for such things? For we are not like the many, who for their own profit are corrupting the Word of God…" (vs 14-17).

That's what's wrong with most of the ministers in the world and in the Churches of God! There are a good number who are dedicated, sincere, serving and loving! But there are others who are arrogant, vain, abusive, demanding, and all of that sort of thing. How do they do it? By corrupting the Word of God!

"…but we speak with sincerity, as from God, and before God, and in Christ" (v 17).

One thing concerning the administration of death (2-Cor. 3). The death penalty was given to Israel because it was a sovereign nation. The Church cannot have the execution of the death penalty because we are scattered in all nations and you can never have two sovereigns within the same territory exercising different sets of laws. All you have to do to understand that is realize that the Muslims trying enforce Sharia Law within our society with what is called 'honor killings.' Perfectly acceptable in Muslim lands, but not in the United States. They are exercising a sovereignty that is not allowed in this country.

Likewise the Church does not exercise the death penalty! Good thing, too, because I don't think many of us would be around if that were the case.

2-Corinthians 4:1: "Therefore, having this ministry, according as we have received mercy, we are not fainthearted. For we have personally renounced the hidden things of dishonest gain…" (vs 1-2). That's for every one of us, but especially for ministers and elders!

"…not walking in cunning craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the Truth, we are commending ourselves to every man's conscience before God" (v 2).

Then he shows how Satan gets involved if they do the things that we just mentioned. Again, notice how the Apostle Paul always keeps pointing to the overall goal:

2-Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation…" You are being created through the power of the Spirit of God, created in Christ Jesus! (Eph. 2). Created in true Holiness and righteousness (Eph. 4).

"…the old things have passed away… [the old way of carnal thinking, etc., etc.] …behold, all things have become new. And all things are from God, Who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation… [to bring them to Christ] …which is, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and He has entrusted to us this message of reconciliation" (vs 17-19). Not the iron-fisted authority to rule over the brethren!

Verse 20: "Therefore, we are ambassadors…"

If you are an ambassador, you represent—in this case—God, everything is the way that God wants it, and no other way or no carnal things are to be added to it, which is not the authority of God in the Church.

"…we are ambassadors for Christ; and God, as it were, is exhorting you through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, 'Be reconciled to God.'" (v 20).

That's after you look at all the problems in 1-Cor. and see what they were doing. Now, this shows the great humility of God, the great righteousness of God:

Verse 21: "For He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." What a tremendous purpose! Just the exact opposite of what people would think.

2-Corinthians 6:1: "We then, working together with Him, are also exhorting you not to receive the grace of God in vain."

Now, after Paul explains everything that they went through and how they have been handled by others and so forth:

Verse 11: "O you Corinthians! Our mouths have been opened to you, and our hearts have been enlarged toward you. You are not suppressed by us, but you are restricted in your own hearts; now in return for our ministry to you (I am speaking to you as to children), you should also enlarge your hearts toward us" (vs 11-13).

That means that 'you should have helped finance our ministry.' But they didn't. So, what Paul is doing is saying that 'because you are not doing this thing, who are you joining yourself up with?'

Verse 14: "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and lawlessness have in common? And what fellowship does light have with darkness? And what union does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever?" (vs 14-15). Sounds like the world today!

Verse 16: "And what agreement is there between a Temple of God and idols?…."

I imagine that's in every Catholic version of the Bible, yet, what do they do? They go to their churches with idols, candles, statues, and pray to Mary who is dead and buried, thinking that they will be saved by her!

"…For you are a temple of the living God…" (v 16). God does so much better than to have all those silly things! He dwells in you with His Spirit!

"…exactly as God said: 'I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people'" (v 16).

What greater gift; what greater thing can you have in your entire life but that?

Verse 17: "'Therefore, come out from the midst of them and be separate,' says the Lord, 'and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you; and I shall be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty" (vs 17-18).

2-Corinthians 7:1: "Now then, beloved, since we have these promises…" Look at all the great things that God holds out for us!

"…we should purge ourselves…" (v 1). Who is doing the correcting? Everyone individually!

"…from every defilement of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting Holiness in the fear of God" (v 1).

  • that's how Paul wanted it done
  • that's what he was teaching
  • that is the correction that he was giving

2-Corinthians 10:7: Are you looking at things according to their appearance?…."

Have you ever judged someone, your first judgment of them, and found out that you were wrong or just looking to the appearance?

"…If anyone is persuaded in his own mind that he is Christ's, let him reconsider this concerning himself; for exactly as he is Christ's, so also are we Christ's" (v 7).

So, their fighting and arguing back and forth was really a tremendously destructive thing among them.

Verse 8: "For even if I should boast somewhat more concerning our authority, which the Lord has given to us for your edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be put to shame."

Authority is to edify, up-build, not to destroy. But we also see that are forces in there to destroy the faith, destroy the brethren, take them away from God. There is full authority to correct for all of those things, in whatever force is necessary to do it.

Verse 9: "In order that I may not seem as though I am frightening you by means of epistles." He's heard some of their arguments!

That Apostle Paul could really write, but look at him, he's nothing!

Especially after he had stoned to death, I wonder how many scars that he had. I wonder what his body was like and so forth. Have you ever been stoned with a lot of stones and left for dead? It would affect you for the rest of your life! I can't vouch for it because it hasn't happened to me, but I can look at a lot of people who have gone through things, and I can conclude properly, that's probably so!

Verse 10: "'For on the one hand,' they say, 'his epistles are weighty and strong; but on the other hand, his bodily presence is weak, and his speech is contemptible.' Let such a one think about this: that exactly as we are in word by epistles when we are absent, so we will be in action when weare present" (vs 10-11). Remember, Paul said:

I warn you… How do you want me to come? In a spirit of love and meekness? You decide. Get rid of some of your sins, repent of your arrogance and carnality, and when I come we can have a wonderful meeting. But if not, look out, I come with authority!

Here is a great problem within the Churches of God today; v 12: "But we dare not join ranks with or compare ourselves with those who are commending themselves… [sounds like a political campaign] …for those who measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, have no understanding." Those are all the arguments that are given!

Take this one verse and sit there and watch the nightly news, and the political ads. It's exactly what it is. But it's also in the Church of God. 'I was closer to the great apostle.' The question is:

  • Do you love God?
  • Do you teach the love and grace of God?

Verse 13: "Now we will not boast of things beyond our measure, but according to the measure of the rule that God has distributed to us, which extends even to you."

Verse 17: But the one who is boasting, let him boast in the Lord. For the one who is approved is not the one who commends himself, but the one whom the Lord commends" (vs 17-18).

Don't stand around and say how great you are, and what you've done and all this sort of thing! What is God doing with you?

1-Cor. 11 is about false apostles and Satan getting into their midst and everything. They would put up with these things.

1-Corinthians 11:1: "I would that you might bear with me in a little nonsense; but indeed, do bear with me. For I am jealous over you with the jealousy of God because I have espoused you to one husband, so that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For indeed, if someone comes preaching another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive, or a different gospel, which you did not accept, you put up with it as something good" (vs 1-4). That's what happened in the Church!

2-Corinthians 12:11: "I have become a fool in this boasting. You have forced me to do so… [because they were comparing everything among themselves] …when I ought to have been commended by you. For in no way was I inferior to those highly exalted so-called apostles… [false apostles coming around saying they are apostles] …even if I am nothing. Indeed, the signs of an apostle were demonstrated by me in all patience, in signs and wonders and miracles among you. For in what way was it that you were inferior to the other churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong" (vs 11-13).

When you give things free to people, when they ought to have some investment in it, you do them harm! Paul thought that these people were so carnal, 'I'm going to give them the Gospel free.' He said that he 'robbed other churches.' Some people read that and say that 'we shouldn't have tithing in the New Testament.'

It doesn't say that! He says, "…Forgive me this wrong."

Let's see how Paul carried out his correction through the rest of 2-Cor.; this will help us understand the authority that is necessary to handle any problem regardless of how severe. But you try all the other means to give the person the choice to do the correcting themselves. That makes it easier. Isn't it nice that when you come up to someone and you see that they've been yielding to God in their lives have changed. Instead of being the curmudgeon that they were in the past—and it was hard to put up with in the Church—that now they're pleasant, nice and even likeable, even loveable! They were give a chance to change!

Verse 14: "Behold, a third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not burden you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for the children are not obligated to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. Now, I will most happily spend, and am willing to be totally spent, for your souls; although the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. Yet, even so, I did not burden you; but being crafty, I caught you with guile. Did I make a gain of you by any of those whom I sent to you?" (vs 14-17).

Verse 18: "I urged Titus to go to you and sent with him our brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit and in the same steps? Again, do you think that we are making an excuse to you? We speak before God in Christ; and everything we do, beloved, is for your edification" (vs 18-19).

That's the whole point of it! To be prepared for the return of Christ! But:

  • some people don't want to be edified
  • some people want to be political and power hungry
  • some people are judgmental
  • some people are busybodies and gossips with wagging tongues

Verse 20: "But I fear that when I come, perhaps I may find you in a state such as I do not wish, and I may be found by you such as you do not wish; that there may be strifes, jealousies, indignations, contentions, evil speakings, whisperings, puffings up, commotions; and that when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall grieve over many of those who have already sinned, and have not repented of the uncleanness and sexual immorality and licentiousness that they have practiced" (vs 20-21).

Again, Paul is giving them warning! Think about this epistle. I don't recall ever receiving a letter from brethren in the Church of God, or that I have ever written a letter like this with such tremendous correction. But notice, from where does the correction come? At the end! After they have been prepared!

2-Corinthians 13:1: "This is the third time that I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter shall be established." Tie in Matt. 18!

Verse 2: "I have previously told you, and I am telling you in advance the second time, as though I were present; but since I am absent now, I am writing to those who have continued to sin until now—and to all the rest—that if I come again, I will not spare." So, he does have the authority!

Verse 3: "Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking through me (Who is not weak toward you, but is powerful in you; for although He was crucified in weakness, yet, He lives by God's power; and we are indeed weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by God's power toward you)" (vs 3-4).

Here's quite a statement! Self-correction! That's what Paul wants. He said, 'I didn't come, I spared you, because I want you to correct yourself.

Verse 5: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; prove your own selves. Don't you of your own selves know that Jesus Christ is in you? Otherwise, you are reprobates…. [pretty powerful statement] …But I hope that you will recognize that we are not reprobates. Now, I am praying to God that you do no evil; not that we may appear to be approved, but that you may do what is right, even if we are regarded as reprobates" (vs 5-7). He's willing to say, 'Okay, throw it all on me if you make yourselves right.'

Verse 9: "And we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong; for we are also praying for this—even your perfection. For this cause, I am writing these things to you while I am absent, in order that when I am present I may not treat you with severity, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction. In conclusion, brethren, rejoice! Be perfected; be encouraged; be of the same mind; be at peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you" (vs 9-11).

Then Paul gives the end of the epistle! This is quite instructive on how Paul used his authority in the Church. How He taught and prepared the brethren for it. This is an important thing that I have covered many, many times!

The best way to bring about change and repentance is to teach people to love God and be inspired so that they want to change!

No one is going to be 'beaten' into the Kingdom of God! No amount of:

  • authority
  • shouting
  • yelling
  • screaming
  • disfellowshiping

is going to purify the Church and prepare them for Christ!

Those are carnal means and methods that have been abused. Rather there needs to be the spiritual uplifting and edification so that everyone can see, change, grow and overcome! That's what Paul shows here. This shows the full working of the Government of God within the Church of God, and it starts with each one of us with Christ in us. Everything goes from there!

It all points back to Christ! It comes from God to us, and from us back to God!

That is the Government of God within the Church! Whatever is necessary to take care of the problems, God gives the authority to do that!

Scriptural References:

  • Ephesians 2:18-22
  • Ephesians 4:15-16
  • 2 Corinthians 11:1-4
  • Titus 1:9-16
  • Titus 2:10-15
  • 2 Corinthians 1:15-24
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-6
  • John 5:45
  • 1 Corinthians 3:7-23
  • 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
  • 2 Corinthians 2:14
  • Romans 8:28
  • 2 Corinthians 2:14-17
  • 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
  • 2 Corinthians 6:1, 11-18
  • 2 Corinthians 7:1
  • 2 Corinthians 10:7-13, 17-18
  • 2 Corinthians 11:1-4
  • 2 Corinthians 12:11-21
  • 2 Corinthians13:1-7, 9-11

Scriptures referenced, not quoted:

  • Exodus 18
  • 1 Timothy 1
  • Matthew 18
  • 1 Corinthians 6
  • Matthew 20
  • Acts 15
  • John 10
  • Genesis 4
  • 3 John
  • Titus 2:1-9
  • Ephesians 1
  • Daniel 4
  • 1 Corinthians 2
  • Philippians 2
  • Romans 1
  • 1 Corinthians 11; 5; 9-16
  • Matthew 18

Also referenced:

Sermon Series:

  • Invisible Idol/Visible Man
  • Heart/Mind Connection


  • Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen M.D.
  • Make a Good Brain Great by Daniel G. Amen M.D.

Transcribed: 9/17/20