Why is there so much division within the Christian church today? In large part it is due to so-called Christian leaders ignoring the Bible which gives God’s delineation of His church. When Paul wrote to Timothy about church leadership the Holy Spirit gave a very detailed list of attributes and malfeasance in 1 Timothy 3:1-16. Conduct is crucial when considering the leaders of the Christian church and many do not measure up to the standard of God’s Word.
1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission will all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write to that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:1-16
Today in the visible church we see men and women in leadership positions who are concerned with their own well-being, wealth, popularity, and well-groomed reputations. They are puffed up with pride and are under the same condemnation as the devil. Instead of having the positive attributes which Paul exhorted Timothy to make sure the bishops and deacons possessed; today’s leaders are known by the malfeasance which Paul warned against. They are aptly described by this passage from 2 Peter chapter 2.
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. 2 Peter 2:1-3
This is the antithesis of what Paul through the indwelling Holy Spirit wrote about the church in his epistle to Timothy. The company of believers meeting in a building is the church of the Living God and must be steadfast in preserving the truth of the Word of God. The heritage of the church springs from the very incarnation and holy work of Jesus Christ the Son of God who came to redeem for Himself His very own people zealous for good deeds. Today, however, in the visible church, the truth is being supplanted with the lie of the enemy of our souls, so that much of what passes for “church” is actually a gathering of the deceived and the deceivers being led by the devil.
This problem of Christian leaders appropriating the world’s doctrines and standards and replacing the sound teaching and instruction of the Scriptures with the emptiness and wickedness of sinful men has undone the testimony of the visible church to the world. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, has given the antidote to this predilection of the unredeemed sinful nature when He instructed Timothy in Paul’s second letter to Timothy.
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2
Now, we can’t physically see Paul nor audibly hear him speak, but we can “see” and “hear” him as we read his epistles in the New Testament, which he wrote by the Holy Spirit, and which comprise the better part of the New Testament. That his epistles in the New Testament are the Word of God is attested to by Peter, again through the Holy Spirit, in his second epistle. This has to be stated explicitly because there are some within the visible church who pit the gospels against the epistles, who estrange the recorded words of Christ from the written words of Paul, as if God’s Word is divided!
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation-as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 2 Peter 3:14-16
To undo the harm being caused by the visible church we must as Christ’s precious possessions look to Him for what He wants us to believe and how He wants us to live. The visible church is no longer a trustworthy institution. We can confidently go to the Scriptures, especially the New Testament epistles, to learn sound doctrine and imitate godly behavior. Here Christ will meet with us and instruct us by His indwelling Holy Spirit. Those who are faithful within Christian leadership would do well to obey the command of God in 2 Timothy 2:2 and only allow those who are faithful to Jesus Christ by trusting and obeying what He has said in His Word the Bible to preach and teach in the church of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, rather than the myriad of deceived deceivers who are exiting the majority of Bible Colleges and Institutes of Theology who now pollute the visible church with the refuse of the world. Our testimony to a world of lost sinners is at stake and our testimony to the glory, holiness and worth of our God is being demolished by the wickedness within the visible church today.
15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work. Titus 1:15-16
Lord Jesus Christ, may we as Your beloved children, hold fast to the testimony of the Scriptures, living godly lives and turning away from all error, compromise and unfaithfulness of fallen men who are striving to deceive Your elect with the lies of the enemy. Keep us in Your love and truth. Amen!