“If there is one who is irreproachable, a husband of one wife, whose children have faith, not open to the accusation of reckless living or undisciplined behavior, for it is required that the overseer is irreproachable as God’s steward, not intractable, not short-tempered, not violent, not greedy, but hospitable, a lover of good, prudent, upright, pious, disciplined, being devoted to the faithful Word as taught, that he might be able to exhort people in doctrine that is sound and reprove those who deny it.”
As we discussed above, the devotion of a church overseer to the word of God must be as the faithful Word is taught — as handed down by the prophets and apostles to the church. Here, too, is one of the shortfalls of the church in the western world…if not in the world as a whole.
“For the time is coming when correct teaching will not be tolerated but according to their own cravings, they will collect teachers who tickle their ears and they will turn away from listening to the Truth and turn away to myths.”
(2 Timothy 4:3-4)
When I look at the landscape of the “Christian” church, it never ceases to amaze me how people are quick to flee from sound doctrine and embrace that which is false. I have spent time in eastern Europe and in Africa and the great struggle that we have with the prosperity gospel is as prevalent in those regions as well. People have fallen for the myth that God’s desire is health and a comfortable life in this world…that is “if you have enough faith.” Yet, what of the faith of Job who was sorely tested or the faith of Paul who battled a thorn in his side? Shall we not say with Jesus that his power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)? Shall we not believe that God’s grace is sufficient for us? Shall we presume that though our Lord chose to enter glory through the pathway of the cross, that such a pathway is not suitable for we who are being conformed into our Lord’s image? Where is the logic in such a position? Let those who teach such a position be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).
There are others who accumulate people around them because of mystic visions or predictions of the end times. Others still, proclaim themselves to be messiahs of one sort of another. Yet, our Lord, once again, warns us not to be fooled by those false-christs and false-prophets, for they will come and their aim is to lead people astray, even the elect (Matthew 24:24). As Jesus warns, “where there is a corpse, there will be vultures” (Matthew 24:28). In other words, the wicked and corrupt will prey upon those who are spiritually dead…don’t fall prey to their ideas.
Rome argues that scripture is interpreted by the church and by the church traditions. What we collectively know as the Eastern Orthodox church elevates the church councils to the level of scripture in terms of its authority. Pentecostalism elevates spiritual experience to the level of being an interpreter of Scripture and what is known as “Wesley’s Quadralateral” raises reason, church teachings, and the wisdom of men alongside of scripture.
The “Reformed Hermeneutic” is the only position that elevates scripture to a level where it interprets itself and it has no peer. Here is how one will find the scriptures taught faithfully. We do not first ask, “what does our theology teach,” nor do we first ask, “what do we believe the Bible is saying to us.” We ask, “What does the Bible teach?” And, in areas that are difficult to understand, we again ask, “What does the Bible say about itself?” Such is the basis for sound teaching and this is the kind of teaching to which we ought to devote ourselves.
And this ought not be a directive just for those who will lead in a church, but it should apply to all who attend churches as well. Yet, too many people attend a church because their friends are there, because they like the music, because they like the preacher (as a person), because their family has always gone there, because, because, because. The right answer is, “I attend such and such a church because the Bible is taught faithfully and without compromise…and the whole Bible is taught, not just those portions with which we are comfortable. Were you seeking a doctor to treat you for a terrible disease, while bed-manner is important, what is most important is: “Does he specialize in treating the disease you have.” The disease that is common to mankind is sin and it is only the pastor who specializes in clearly teaching the Word of God that is the specialist you need.
How different our churches would be if church Elders were truly dedicated to faithful teaching of the Word, if pastors were dedicated to faithful teaching of the Word, and if the people of God were dedicated to the faithful teaching of the Word…and not seeking to have their “itching ears” scratched.