Preacher or Pastor What’s the difference?

MOST FOLKS, myself included, have a hard time remembering names. However, many can remember what you do, probably because it’s more tangible than a name.    Let me share with you a conversation that I have nearly every single day;

Them: Hello pastor.
Me: Hello, I’m not a pastor, I’m a preacher.
Them: what’s the difference?
Me: a bunch, would you like to study it?
Them: No, I’m good.

This typical conversation has been condensed for space. I’m never short with them, always jovial and kind, but I do use it as an opportunity to engage in a gospel conversation with folks.

This article is for them. For all of us really. It will be posted online as a tool you can use when they ask you, “what’s your pastor like?”

What’s the difference?

Although all pastors are preachers, not all preachers are pastors.

PREACHERS: These people are “a herald, i.e. of divine truth (especially of the gospel)” WE Vines. Although any one can be a “preacher” when they speak about the Gospel, there is a position in the local congregation which is called “the evangelist.” According to scripture, this is a male who is a herald of the gospel during the preaching portion of the worship. He stands up and preaches the gospel, [2Timothy 4:2; 1Timothy 2:12; 1Corinthians 14:34]. It’s unpopular to say “male only”, but this is the teaching of the New Testament. In no way does this teaching speak to the worth of women, rather it is just a defining of roles. [Galatians 3:28]

In short, a preacher is an evangelist who, in addition to going out to spread the gospel, publicly preaches the gospel during the worship of the local congregation. Paul wrote to the evangelist / preacher Timothy, “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” [2Tim 4:5]

PASTORS: This is a specific position held in the local congregation, the qualifications of which are in 1Timothy 3:1-7 & Titus 1:5-9. There are some additional information about “pastors”, also called “elders” in Acts 20:17-35. Here we find that these men are to watch over the local church and to feed the flock; “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28]. From this verse it becomes clear why Elders are also Called Pastors.

An Elder / Pastor can also be an evangelist, laboring as his vocation in the Gospel. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” [1Timothy 5:17]

What’s Your Pastor Like?” This is another question that is frequently asked. What they’re trying to determine is his speaking ability and personality. This questions is often asked by a person who’s thinking about visiting a particular church. While there’s nothing wrong in asking about the speaker, it shouldn’t be the FIRST nor ONLY prerequisite for choosing a church. (Other poor qualities for choosing a church are; games, entertainment, cafes of field trips)

One should seek first the truth; “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” [Mat 6:33]. I’ve written about this in a previous article, “How to start a church” [April 19, 2015]. The basics of which are 3 points:

  • Reliance on God’s word for their only Authority. [1Peter 4:11]
  • Correct Worship in spirit and truth. [John 4:24]
    1. Assembling on the correct day, partaking of the Lord’s Supper [Acts 20:7]. Preaching, praying, singing (without the aid of mechanical music) and giving [Acts 20:7, 8, 36; Eph 5:19; 1Cor 16:1].
  • Doing the work of the church; Spreading the Gospel, Edification of the saints, and benevolence for needy saints. [Mat 28:18-20; Eph 4:12; 1Cor 16:1]

More could be said about this subject, hopefully this article has peaked your interest in confirming for yourself about the truth of all matters. Search the scriptures yourselves to learn all the counsel of God.  [Acts 17:11; 1John 4:1-3].

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good
[1Thess 5:21]

God’s Succession Plan

ONE OF THE ARGUMENTS against the church is that we have no line of succession from the church in Jerusalem at Pentecost to the Franklin St. Church of Christ. Some point to Campbell as the originator of the church of Christ in America. This is a false teaching, and demonstrates their failure to understand biblical authority. We, as members of the Franklin St. Church of Christ, do have a direct connection to the first century church that began on Pentecost. Let’s go to the scriptures and look at God succession plan.

God’s 3 step succession Plan

FIRST, Teach our children. God expects His ways to be passed along through our children. In Genesis, we read about a man named Abraham. He was a righteous man and obeyed the Lord faithfully, from the command to leave Ur through the command to sacrifice his son. God said this about Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” [Ge 18:19]. Abraham was spoken well of because God knew that he would pass along the “ways of the Lord” to his children and his household.

Others in scripture seem to have failed in this. Eli had children that did horrible things against the ways of the Lord [1Sam 2:12, 22] and God rebuked Eli for failing to stop it. “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” [1Sam 3:13].

The Lord has been very clear on this point;

De 6:7 And thou shalt teach them (commands, statutes & judgments of the Lord) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. [De 4:9; 6:20; 11:19; Ps 78:4]

Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. [Pr 19:18; 29:17;]

In the New Testament, Paul taught this same principle, teach it to our children. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” [Ephesians 6:4]. Parents play a vital role in God’s succession plan.

SECOND, Teach others. God commands Christians to pass along what they learn to others. This command is contained in the “great commission”; “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” [Matthew 28:19-20]. Paul demonstrated his obedience to this command when he instructed Timothy and so many others. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” [2Timothy 2:2]. This was also a qualification of an Elder, “able to teach” [1Timothy 3:2]. What are they to teach, what else than the “whatsoever I have commanded you.”

THIRDLY, Sow the seed of the kingdom. What all these verses have in common is The word of God. God’s succession plan has ALWAYS been through the teaching of His word to mankind. Look at the parable of the sower; “Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 14 The sower soweth the word… And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” [Mr 4:3-20].

Let’s illustrate this point; If a person desired to grow Florida oranges he would go down to the place where he could buy some orange seeds. Taking that orange seed home, if he were to plant it, nurture it, and provide all that is needed for that seed to grow, in a short time he would be enjoying Oranges. The church today can be planted in any place by sowing the seeds of the kingdom of God, which is His word. We do this by reading, studying and obeying His divine word.

In human institutions we see succession by elections or by birth, as in the case of a monarchy. In God’s kingdom there is also a birth. Christians are “born again” when we obey His word. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” [James 1:18].

Let no one deceive you. We become Christians through His word. His word tells us to Hear the word [Rom 10:14], Believe His word [John 11:24], Repent of our sins [Luke 13:3], Confess Jesus as both Lord and Christ [Matthew 10:32-33], be baptized for the remission of our sins [Mark 16:15-16] and to live faithfully [2Peter 2:20-22]. Plant the seed of God in your heart and become just a Christian.   

– Spencer

I Love Facebook. I Hate Facebook.

THE AVERAGE FACEBOOK user now has about 338 friends, though the median number, 200, is quite a bit lower. This means that while half of all Facebook users have 200 or fewer friends, many of the billion-plus Facebookers have quite a few more. In fact, 15 percent of users have friend lists topping 500.

These numbers are consistent with other statistics on the number of people that the average person knows well enough to come to their wedding or funeral, about 150 – 200 friends. In essence, Facebook allows a person to communicate with every single person they know, every day.

In the past, if folks wanted to speak to every one of their friends they needed to have a TV program. Before that, their own radio program. Before that, 1895, they would have to send a personal communication to each and every person. Before that, it became much more complicated.

WHY I LOVE FACEBOOK

Facebook is a really big hill, a really, really big hill. It is for this reason alone that I love Facebook. As a Christian, I have a duty from God. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14, 16

Facebook gives us Christians an opportunity to demonstrate our good works, our Christian attitudes, our Christian love and our Christian values to every one of our family & friends that we’re connected with through social media. Another thing, when you add in the other forms of public social media, we have a platform that is so large that it would make the first century Christians cry with joy, recognizing the ability to Proclaim the word of the Lord to all the world. They did it the old fashioned way, through word of mouth [Romans 1:8; 10:18; 1Th 1:8].

For most of human history, conveying a message required huge amounts of effort, person to person, and from mouth to ear. Technology has aided in declaring God’s word. A written language, the development of paper. The Roman roads of the first century. The printing of the Gutenberg Bible in 1455 with the invention of the printing press. In our modern times, mass electronic communication methods such as radio, TV and now the internet has increased our reach.

WHY I HATE FACEBOOK

Unfortunately, I have not always shown my good works through social media and Facebook. Many of us use it as a soapbox for our political & personal ranting, ravings and whinings. I’ve personally noticed how we have alienated friends, family and even brethren over our personal opinions. Worse yet, the posting of less that Christ like pictures, likes, links and shares.

On numerous occasions, myself and other brethren, have posted mean spirited, ungodly and downright sinful compositions, even disparaging remarks about the Church! We expect that from the world [1Peter 2:12; 3:16], but ought not be named among brethren. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” [James 3:10]

Though the thoughts may be true and the brethren sometimes falter [1Cor 6:11; 1Peter 2:18], God gave us a method for addressing sinful activities in the church. Go to him alone Mat 18:15, then only the church if he won’t hear you Mat 18:16-17. To take it to the world is absolutely condemned. “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” [1Corinthians 6:1-8]. How does publically complaining about the church of our Lord aid in our evangelism efforts?

I declare to my brethren right now, I CONFESS MY SIN AND REPENT OF THIS UNRIGHTEOUS ACTIVITY. I hope you will too. Please pray for me as I also pray for you.

“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” [Matthew 15:11]

– Spencer

“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”  (KJV) [Colossians 4:6]

What if we could end sin?

SUPPOSE THAT we could convince everyone in the world to quit sinning.  What would we have accomplished?

It would appear at first glance that we would have made the world a much better place, but have we really done anything?

Let’s say we could convince all the world to quit drunkenness, yet they still don’t have Christ, we have done very little. Though repentance is a part of the gospel plan of salvation [Luke 13:3], it alone will not save you. Just as faith alone will never save you.

Pick a sin, whatever bothers you most, that you would end instantly. If folks repented of these sin on their own initiative, or through sound reasoning on your part, but they have not Christ you have done nothing.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” [1Corinthians 15:22]. We are made alive when we are “in Christ”, and according to the scriptures we get into Christ through obeying the gospel.

Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This is the only way a person can get into Christ. The preposition into indicates a change of relationship. You can search from the front to the back of your Bible, and you will find no other way to get into Christ except by being baptized into Christ. Also Romans 6:3 says the same thing, “Or do you not know, that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” So the only way we can get into Christ is to be baptized into Christ. Either a person has been baptized into Christ, or he is still outside of Christ. We are either in or we are out. Have you been baptized into Christ in order to be saved and have your sins forgiven?  If you haven’t been, then no amount of good works can save you. [Ephesians 2:8-9].

SEEK YE FIRST…

Nowhere in this article am I saying that a person can continue in sin. Paul, in his letter to the Romans said such, [Romans 6:1-3]. It is sin that has separated us from God. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that he will not hear” [Isaiah 59:2]. What I am saying is that we need to approach evangelism from the top down.

All too often we find ourselves in discussions with the world about some particular sin. The discussion usually degrades into a debate, then into an argument until finally they will say, “We just have to agree to disagree.” If, on the other hand, you do convince them that a particular thing is wrong and they change, all you’ve really done is made them a better person, or a better Baptist or a better Lutheran, but you have NOT made them a Christian. If they repent of all of their sins, they still fall short of being “IN CHRIST” just as all who believe that “FAITH ONLY” is all that is necessary unto salvation.

TOP DOWN EVANGELISM

I’ve come to the realization that when a person is truly convicted in their heart that Jesus is the Christ, just as they were at Pentecost [Acts 2:37], then they will do whatever it takes to become a Christian. Until then, it’s nearly impossible to get a person to repent of anything, much less the popular sins of our culture.

It’s for this reason that I have in mind to divert every topic of conversation, with those outside of Christ, to the topic of the Authority of Christ and His plan of salvation. This is what Philip did with the Ethiopian Eunuch on the road. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” [Acts 8:35, 36]. This is why the Eunuch asked, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me from being baptized?”

When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”, Jesus said to them, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” [Matthew 22:36, 37]. This is a true statement, for our Lord said it. Before we can truly obey any command of God, we must first embrace and obey this one. If we can convince the whole world about this command, THEN we have truly done something.

THEY WERE ALL WRONG

A good many years ago, a preacher went into a town where there was no New Testament church. He preached in a house of worship and then in the market place of the city.

Soon the religious leaders of the city heard him and invited him to address them. They thought if his religious claims seemed meritorious to them, they would fellowship him. But, to their dismay and confusion, he preached that they were wrong and he was right; that their worship was not acceptable to the God of heaven. He preached that the church to which he belonged was the only true church of the living God.

Such a preacher! Don’t you know he hurt their feelings? Evidently they were sincere. Surely he could have made a nice talk and got away without causing any discord!

Who was the preacher anyway? His name was Paul, and he preached this sermon in Athens. It did cause some stir. It did not please those leaders at all. They got up and left before he finished. But the sermon pleased God. You can read it in Acts 17. There is no room in Christ’s church for a compromiser.

—————————————-

Ac 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. 18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. 19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:  28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:  31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.  

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

 33 So Paul departed from among them.  34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Life’s Treasure Chests

It’s very true, we have more free time than our forefathers. (except mom’s, moms have no free time). In 2000, France’s government created a 35-hour work week. Adults spend 5.5 hours per day online, and the average teen spends 27 hours per week online.

What are we to do with this free time. If you do not know what use to make of this free time now, the problem will grow worse as the years roll by. I have no immunity to this problem.

We’re in a constant state of needing to be entertained. The scripture warns about too much fun, “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man;” [Proverbs 21:17]

There’s no sin in entertainment, just in too much of it. We (I) have no need to be entertained, I need to create and construct. I (We) need to become a part of an activity. There, we (I) shall find real entertainment and true satisfaction.

The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” [Proverbs 13:4]

We need to search out activities that can be both fun and valuable. There are 3 kinds of fun; MEANINGFUL fun, MEANINGLESS fun and HARMFUL fun. Give it some thought and you’ll easily see the difference.

If you and I search out activities and interests that are meaningful we may find others who find them fun as well. Here’s what’s cool about this, it may put us in front of more people. People who may be won when they observe our chaste conduct accompanied by fear.  [1Peter 3:1, 2] Our present lack of interest may only be a symptom of our lack of understanding on the subject.

A fellow once described life as a long tunnel lined on both sides with treasure chests filled with all manner of precious objects (these precious objects could represent people). Some individuals came out of the tunnel with only one precious stone — they had never stopped to dip into the other chests. There were others who came with pockets and hands so loaded they could hardly walk! They had explored many chests, and they described their journey in glowing terms.

Which person are you?

Gay Marriage & the Christian

Free to marry or Free to speak?
Today, The Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, striking down bans in 14 states. Christians have been wrestling with this issue. Not because of the Biblical truth, rather, we have been branded as haters, bullied into silence when we preach the Biblical truth. This issue is not about whether homosexuality is sinful, or that it is a worse sin, i.e., “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like” Galatians 5:19-21, but it’s about the freedom to preach on Biblical topics.

CHRISTIAN SHARIA?
Am I advocating for a form of a Christian Sharia Law? Certainly not. I have no interest or authority from Scripture to compel people into compliance with the Law of Christ [Galatians 6:2]. Folks are to comply with Him willfully, not out of compulsion [1Co 9:17; 2Co 9:7]. What then is the problem? The problem is that the court ruling has now given the anti-God crowd more strength in condemning the Bible, and to continue to push God out of our society.

They do this by belittling our beliefs, chiding us, calling us ignorant. A statement made by Jesse Ventura sums up what is happening to Christians, “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.”

How is a Christian to respond to gay marriage?
The way we respond to all sin. Homosexuality is a sin [Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Jude 1:7]. Yet, it is no worse a sin than any other sin. All sin will keep a person out of heaven, separating us from God [Mt 7:23; 1Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21, 1John 1:5-10].

When we encounter folks walking in sin, homosexuality being just one of those, we need to do what the Bible has taught us to do; preach Jesus. When Paul met the philosophers on Mars Hill, he didn’t condemn them for their false religious beliefs, rather he taught them the truth about the One True God [Acts 17:22-34]. He let the word of Truth prick their hearts and their hearts convicted them, and some believed.

If we go around convincing folks to quit sinning, all we’ve done is made the lost well-behaved. Surely that could make life more pleasant, but if they don’t know Jesus, we’ve accomplished nothing. Remember also, we too are dealing with sin, [1John 1:8].

The only remedy for sin
Sin is cured by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ [Mat 26:28]. People, in order to be cured, have to hear about the Gospel and obey it [Rom 10:14-17]. They have to come to fully believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God [Mat 16:16; Acts 8:37]. They must “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” [Acts 2:38; Romans 6:4; Gal 3:27]. Then each person must continue in the doctrine of Christ, remaining faithful until death [Mat 28:18-20; Rev 2:10]

Stay off the bandwagon
The desire to fit in, or to jump on the bandwagon so as to avoid ridicule is to approve of sin, in this case homosexuality. Let us remain faithful, Jesus DID speak on gay marriage when He told us that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” [Matthew 19:4-5]

By specifying who is to be married, male and female, He prohibited every other combination. This is a foundational principle of logic and reasoning, let alone Biblical authority. That which is stated is to the exclusion of all other options.

If we accept this sin, or any other, we become guilty of that sin. “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” [Romans 1:32-2:5; 2Jo 1:11]

What is True Love
They said that this case was about love. No, not even close. True love is telling people about Jesus Christ. [1Co 9:22; 1Ti 4:16] True love is desiring that people be saved, that is why we preach. [Mark 16:16]

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” [1Corinthians 9:16]

Let us preach the truth about Jesus Christ, which will include the truth about sin. It will include the truth about His plan of salvation which includes baptism. When we do, let us preach it in Love, let our words be seasoned with salt, let us pray so we may know how to answer each one. [Colossians 4:6]

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” [Ephesians 4:15]