Overseer, Not Dictator!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous” (1 Timothy 3:1-3 KJV).

A dear religious lady vented exasperation when describing to me the pitiful conditions in her local “Bible-believing, fundamental” assembly. She had been there all her life (many decades), but the new pastor, for the last two years, had become increasingly tyrannical. He was nothing like today’s Scripture!

As she described that pastor, I sat totally amazed (!) that any sensible group would retain him for any period! He “lashed out” at everyone with harsh words—refusing correction when his erroneous ideas were exposed, disrespecting the elderly members, and telling people not to question him since they were too ignorant in the Bible. He was even rude to those outside the assembly. In fact, someone who witnessed his evil ways asked the lady who talked to me, “What kind of preacher do y’all have down there?” Yes, the church’s reputation was tainted in the community because of him!

It gets worse. He had stolen money from the church! Furthermore, she said the only deacon who really knew anything in the Scriptures was “booted off” the board without notice. When I asked her if they could force that despotic pastor out, she said the congregation was equally divided. Half wanted to keep him (!); the other half wanted him gone. Dear friends, the blame for this spiritual circus actually falls on the previous pastor. He taught them nothing in the Scriptures to enable them to withstand the heretic now destroying the Lord’s ministry and people!

As today’s Scripture says, the “bishop” (episkopos, “overseer;” cf. Acts 20:28) should be the guardian of the local church. He should always be vigilant to spot error and defend the congregation from Satan’s policy of evil. However, sadly, so many church leaders today are nothing but Satan’s tools, wolves in sheep’s clothing (Acts 20:28-32). Let us beware of them, brethren, and either remove them from our midst, or remove ourselves from theirs!