Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Institutional or Charismatic Authority

Yesterday I celebrated my 25th anniversary as an ordained pastor. I have reached another milestone in the Lord. We seem to fall terribly short of Paul's injunction to esteem others better than ourselves or at least honour those who are worthy of honour or honouring our leaders as it is only right before the Lord. I have in mind that one restorative act would be to include all former and present leaders at least once or twice a year (Pastors' Conference and/or AGM's night service) where all those who have served the Church faithfully, especially those who have held leadership positions in the denomination would be honoured. Why not the second row reserved for all former leaders with current leaders in the front row? Would that not show Church unity and set an example to all church members and to the world? A Church is not a secular outfit or a political contest where winners take all. As we are still in the world, election of Christian leaders may be a necessary form of church government and organization, nevertheless, those elected and appointed must serve with humility and grace, knowing that they are there to serve and not to be served as Christ has said, "whoever wants to be first shall be a slave to all".

But as far as my ordination is concerned, it is human recognition at the time to one whom God had appointed to His service. Ordination is the recognition by other human leaders that the person ordained has also received the grace of office/ministry according to the Lord's calling and gifting in his life. Institutional recognition is subject to the charismatic authority that the person has in Christ. In other words, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the first pre-requisite for the appointment to any church office. Without the anointing of the Spirit, no human or institutional recognition or ordination matters much. In fact, it makes things worse if we ordained a person not empowered by the Spirit and not ready for ministry as God wills it. Besides the Spirit's baptism, the candidate's ability to teach the Word of God which in itself presumes some form of training and equipping in the knowledge and interpretation of Holy Scripture. 

When you have the Word and the Spirit, it is a powerful combination, one feared by the devil but one seldom seen in church. No wonder many churches are so weak today. On one hand, we see some good preachers but they are more intellectual or dogmatic in their approach. On the other hand, preachers may claim to have a certain anointing or charisma, but the Word preached is so weak that at the end, it proves to be of little worth. I would surmise that both charismatic and institutional authorities are important, giving preference to the former as we see time and time again in the Bible, bad or evil kings might have institutional authority but actual authority lies elsewhere in the person of the prophet like Elijah whom Elisha called, "My father, my father and the chariots of Israel". At the end time, Paul, the apostle said there would be a great falling away (apostasy) [2 Thes 2] perhaps outwardly looks like a Church or nominal Christianity but actual charismatic authority lies with the two witnesses-prophets who stand before the Lord of the earth (Rev 11:4) and to those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Rev 14:12).

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