Tag Archives: spiritual authority

The Wartburg Watch & The Great Shepherd

In recent weeks, Calvary Temple’s abuse has been spotlighted on a notable Christian blog called, The Wartburg Watch. Brandon wrote a few introductory posts. If you are looking for a history of Calvary Temple and the allegations of spiritual, mental, physical and sexual abuse, you can read his essay, “Calvary Temple: In a Nutshell.” Though it is long, the content makes it well worth the effort of reading. Woven throughout Calvary Temple’s history is the thread of Brandon’s personal story.

 

“I’m sorry, Joe. Dad sent me out here. You have to get out of my car.” My younger brother peered at me through tired eyes from the back seat of my 1998 Toyota Corolla where he had been sleeping. He nodded in resignation like a man who had just heard that he was going to have to sleep under a bridge that night and there was nothing he could do about it. He closed the car door behind him, walked down my parent’s gravel driveway, and disappeared into the lonely darkness. It was almost Christmas and it was snowing gently. He was fourteen. … Read more here.


The Wartburg Watch has also published a few stories of ex-CT members, like Michelle, Patty and Molly. Theirs are the stories of brave souls with lives torn apart by shepherds who devour sheep. Even I, who knew parts of these stories already, find it heartbreaking to read them. And for each of these stories, there are many more just like them. For being just one (or two) church(es), Calvary Temple is prolific in its destruction of families, marriages and lives. Note: To other Calvary Temple survivors, The Wartburg Watch is willing to publish more stories if you are willing to share.

Reading these stories is strong motivation in the fight to expose Calvary Temple, when one realizes that real shepherds don’t act like this. 

In choosing the axe instead of the shepherd’s staff, CT pastors have chosen to become devouring wolves. Instead of caring for their sheep, they beat, manipulate, abuse and destroy. They are shepherds in name only, displaying characteristics of satan and certainly NOT the Great Shepherd who loves His sheep with a great love.

I am meditating often on the pastoral words of Psalm 23, as I rest in the love and care of The Great Shepherd. It is God’s character that is the greatest indictment against Calvary Temple’s actions.

 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the L ord forever.

Psalm 23

 

 

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Biblical Authority: Pastoral Authority is not Mosaic and it is not Priestly | Part 3 of 3

This is Part 3 in a 3-part series. We recommend reading Part 1 and Part 2 before proceeding.

Part 3 of 3: Conclusion

In Part 1 of this three-part article we introduced the thesis, which is that pastoral authority is not Mosaic and it is not priestly.  This claim goes directly against Star Scott’s teachings that pastoral authority is Mosaic and it is priestly.  The implications of such teachings are far reaching.  As such, we have set out to study Scripture to see which claims are true and which are not.  Our studying led us to the book of Hebrews, the context of which will address our dilemma.

We then went through the first 10 chapters of the book of Hebrews in an effort to better understand the context of that book.  We will not restate all that was said, and if you are reading this Part 3 right now, do understand that we intended for you to read parts 1 and 2 beforehand in order to fully understand our position during this conclusion.  While we cannot restate the entirety of our arguments from the first two parts, we will resubmit our outline of Hebrews 1-10:18 for reference:

  • Section 1: Christ is superior to angels (1:1-14)
    • An admonition concerning salvation (2:1-4)
  • Section 2: Christ’s complete humanity qualifies Him to be our High Priest (2:5-18)
  • Section 3: Christ is superior to Moses (3:1-19)
  • Section 4: Christ is superior to Joshua in that He is able to bring us to rest (4:1-13).
  • Section 5a: Christ’s High Priesthood compared to the Aaronic Priesthood (4:14-5:10)
    • Another admonition concerning maturity, falling away, and faith (5:11-6:20)
  • Section 5b: Christ’s High Priesthood is superior to Aaron’s high priesthood (7:1-28)
  • Section 6: Christ is our High Priest. God’s new covenant supersedes the old. (8:1-13)
  • Section 7: Christ is the testator and mediator of the new covenant (9:1-28)
  • Section 8: Christ is the final sacrifice; summary thoughts (10:1-18)

Now that we have covered the doctrinal element of Hebrews, we can return to the statement that pastoral authority is not Mosaic and it is not priestly.  This assertion is made as a counter-claim to the two claims that Star Scott makes in his sermons from the introduction: they are restated below in their entirety.  He also makes these claims outside of those two sermons, but we want to explore the claims using the sermon excerpts as evidence of his claims:

Star Scott Claim #1: God used the example of Moses leading the children of Israel to establish pastoral authority in our lives. This example perfectly correlates to the New Testament five fold ministry gifts. 

Proposed Supporting Scripture: Ps. 77:20

Star Scott, Steps of the Good Man Pt. 3, April 25, 2010:

“There is a very interesting example in the Scripture that shows how God led the flock of God, or the people of God, and Moses as the shepherd of that covenant people, “Thou leddest Thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (Psalm 77:20). So, as He is leading them like a flock by the hand of Moses, we begin to see the method that God used was to put people in authority in our lives. He establishes divine order as a primary method of leading us as a flock…Most of us, though, are not concerned with how He leads the church; we’re concerned with how He’s leading me. And the minute we begin to think about me, and not how we fit into the community, we have already perverted the reason for wanting to know the will of God. Because our desire for knowing the will of God should be, “How can I better edify the body of Christ? How can I be used more for the glory of God?” When we have that kind of heart attitude, we are in a place where we can hear what the Holy Spirit wants to say to us. But, if we are not careful that competitive spirit which is in every one of us, our desire to compete for to advance in temporal areas, which are secular, instead of eternal and spiritual, will arise because that’s what is in us without the dominance of the Holy Spirit. Then, especially in Christians, our rebellion is often wrapped in “Christianese” — using Christian language, spiritual words, and Bible references–to somehow camouflage our self will and how we see ourselves.  “God led them by the hand of Moses;” what a beautiful passage.  Look at Psalm 77; it is so good that you need to look at it. The Lord is being exalted throughout this whole Psalm: “I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings;” (verse 12), “Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.” (verse 14) Speaking of the greatness of God–the bigness of God: “The voice of Thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.” (Verse 18) Just the majesty of God! Then it says, “Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” (Verse 20) Now, in the midst of all of that there is a powerful statement made there. We see all of the majestic aspects of the holy God we serve–His omnipotence and His immensity–we stand in awe, then it says exactly what we have been studying in Ephesians, that God chose an order and established it in their midst: there is an order in the kingdom of God; there is an order in the church; there is an order in the home. Yet, everything in man says, “No, I have a responsibility to myself.” That’s what Eve said when Satan offered her the opportunity to have her eyes opened so she no longer had to depend upon God or upon Adam as a covering. “I can now hear directly from God.” If you don’t recognize that spirit, you will be very susceptible to deception–especially in these hours that are coming upon us.”

Star Scott Claim #2: The New Testament’s five-fold ministry gifts hear the voice of God and the will of God for an individual believer on a higher level than that individual believer.  They hear the Word of God from a different perspective that gives them a greater ability to interpret its meaning.

Proposed Supporting Scripture: no verses directly cited

Star Scott, Knowing God’s Voice, Hearing God’s Will Pt. 2, January 20, 2008:

“As we study the Word of God, I think there’s a great error in the church as it pertains to revelation of God’s will and order for His church. We live in a day when everyone seems to believe that we can hear equally. I want to share with you that that’s not a biblical principle. Aren’t you thankful that the Spirit of God lives in every one of us, and that the Spirit within you leads you into all truth? Can you say, “Praise God!” for that? Yet, the methods that He uses many times are misunderstood. We live in a day when we’ve lost sight of the fact that God predominantly speaks to men that are placed by Him in roles of leadership. We’re talking about the biblical representation of the lordship of Jesus, as He has set in the church (as it pleases Him) apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers, to teach and govern the body of Christ. You see, we live in a day when we still believe that each one of us has insight and input that is equal, but I want to share with you one thing. You’re going to be deceived and you’re going to become shipwrecked if you refuse to understand that God has put counselors, overseers, and spiritual authority into your life who will speak to you the Word of God. They hear the Word of God from a different perspective and on a different level than you hear it. We don’t like to hear that. We think we’re all equal, but I’m here to tell you that we are not.”

Star Scott Claim #1.

 Taking on Star Scott Claim #1, let us return to Hebrews:

  1. We see in 3:1-6 that Christ is better than Moses.
  2. We see in 7:4-10 that Christ is better than Aaron.
  3. We see again in 8:5-6 that the old covenant that Moses was a part of is just a shadow of the new covenant, and that the ministry of Jesus is superior to the priests in the same way that the new covenant is better than the old covenant.  Verse 6 explicitly says that the new covenant is established on better promises.
  4. We see that 8:7 states that if the old covenant had nothing wrong with it there would have been no reason for God to promise another.
  5. We see that 7:12 states that a change in the priesthood would necessitate a change of the law.
  6. As a consequence, 10:9 says that He took away the first that He may establish the second.  The covenant we are living under today is separate and distinct from the covenant of Moses’ day.  The priesthood has changed from the old priesthood to Christ’s priesthood.
  7. Furthermore, 8:8-12, which is a quote of Jer. 31:31-34 shows clearly that the new covenant will not be like the old covenant God made “when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt.”
  8. Also, 8:11 shows that our access to God and our knowing God is now based on the equality of each believer before God.
  9. Consequently, 8:13 says as clearly as could be said that the old law is now obsolete and has no further use.
  10. As a result, 9:13-14 demonstrates that Christ’s sacrifice is infinitely more powerful than the sacrifices in bulls and goats, in that Christ’s sacrifice cleanses our consciences in order that we may serve the living God.  This is further testified in 10:22 as the first direct result of the doctrine established in ch. 1-10:18.

Let’s look again at the sermon:

Star Scott, Steps of the Good Man Pt. 3, April 25, 2010:

“There is a very interesting example in the Scripture that shows how God led the flock of God, or the people of God, and Moses as the shepherd of that covenant people, “Thou leddest Thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (Psalm 77:20). So, as He is leading them like a flock by the hand of Moses, we begin to see the method that God used was to put people in authority in our lives. He establishes divine order as a primary method of leading us as a flock…”

Looking at points (1) and (2) made in Hebrews, Christ supersedes Moses and Aaron.  Furthermore, He now serves in the roles that Moses and Aaron served in, only according to point (3) it is in an infinitely superior way.  So if God promised a better way, why would Star Scott insist on the old way?  Furthermore, point (4) states that there was something wrong with the old covenant, in that it was not complete: for Star Scott to insist on its use is to accept a system that God Himself declared to be faulty and incomplete.  Point (5) shows that as a result of the old priesthood changing, the law had to change as well: clearly by (6) the purpose of Christ’s coming was to take away that old law and old priesthood in order to establish a new covenant with a new priesthood—His priesthood.  Look again at the passage that is summarized in point (5): the priesthood had to change from man to Christ.  Therefore, no man can claim the functions of that role any more, as point (9) shows that the old law has been made obsolete.

If points 1-6 were not compelling enough, let us compare point (7) with Star Scott’s words.  Point (7) is in reference to the words of the Bible found in Hebrews and Jeremiah (by the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established):

Star Scott:

“Thou leddest Thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (Psalm 77:20). So, as He is leading them like a flock by the hand of Moses, we begin to see the method that God used was to put people in authority in our lives. He establishes divine order as a primary method of leading us as a flock…”

 

OT Messianic Prophecy:

The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,” (Jer. 31:31-32)

 

NT fulfillment confirmed:

The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,”(Heb. 8:8-9)

What is most amazing about trying to use Ps. 77:20 to establish future doctrine is that this goes directly against point (7), where God says in Jer. 31:32 and again in Heb. 8:8-9 that the covenant that God will establish through the death of Christ “will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt.”  This is a breaking of one of the most basic rules of hermenutics, that “Scripture reveals Scripture.”  What that means is that we use the obvious, large passages of the Bible that are understood by all to comprehend the small, obsure parts of the Bible that might be used by some to bring confusion.

Looking as Ps. 77:20, there are several concerns I have with him using this verse as evidence of his claim.  One of the first things a Bible student would learn is that we cannot read the Psalms as having the same purpose as the Epistles.  In the specific case of Ps. 77:20, it is not Messianic or prophetic, and it does not point to the future.  It is a psalm of worship and a psalm of history, meaning that the section in 77:10-20 was written for the purpose of evoking worship to the Lord through a historical account of God’s goodness.  It reflects on the past, not the future.  This is very, very different from a verse that would be used to establish New Testament doctrine.  We see plenty of psalms and other prophetic passages that were Messianic being used as supporting evidence by the author of Hebrews and other New Testament writers.  For example, Jeremiah 31:31-34 was obviously written

  1. of a future time when God would change His covenant,
  2. it was considered Messianic by the Jews,
  3. and it was confirmed as Messianic by its reiteration in Hebrews.

None of those things are true of Ps. 77:20.  It was speaking of

  1. a past reflectoin of God’s goodness in His old covenant,
  2. it was not considered Messianic by the Jews,
  3. and it was never reitereated in the New Testament

As it is not intended to speak towards the future, and as Star Scott’s interpretation of it goes directly against the entire book of Hebrews and ch. 8:8-9 in particular (Scripture reveals Scripture), we must assume that its intention was other than what Star Scott has used it for.  Therefore, Ps. 77:20 cannot be used to establish authority under the New Covenant, because it was never intended to establish authority under the New Covenant.

The implications of this comparison are alarming, and it raises a variety of important questions such as

  • How is it that Star Scott has come to a place of teaching as doctrine something that goes directly against Scripture?
  • What does it say about his ability to discern good and evil if he teaches the opposite of what the Bible teaches?
  • If he is such a good exegete as he claims to be, how is it that he got this one so blatantly wrong?
  • As one teaching the Word and requiring it of others, does he use basic hermenutic principles to aid in his interpretation of the Bible?
  • Why didn’t the congregants of Calvary Temple see this problem as soon as the words escaped Star Scott’s mouth?
  • What predisposition leads a man to misinterpret the Bible in this way?
  • What predisposition leads the other men to accept the Bible in this way?

Let’s move on to the rest of the sermon:

Star Scott, Steps of the Good Man Pt. 3, April 25, 2010:

“then it says exactly what we have been studying in Ephesians, that God chose an order and established it in their midst: there is an order in the kingdom of God; there is an order in the church; there is an order in the home. Yet, everything in man says, “No, I have a responsibility to myself.” That’s what Eve said when Satan offered her the opportunity to have her eyes opened so she no longer had to depend upon God or upon Adam as a covering. “I can now hear directly from God.” If you don’t recognize that spirit, you will be very susceptible to deception–especially in these hours that are coming upon us.”

This is a faulty correlation to Ephesians.  As we’ve already established, Ps. 77 is a historical psalm and cannot be used to establish a New Testament doctrine concerning pastoral authority.  That he had to grasp at the last verse of an obscure psalm is telling in and of itself.  Furthermore, taking points (4) and (6) together, Star Scott’s desire to use Old Testament examples to establish New Testament principles ignores points (3) and (9) that the new covenant is better and the old covenant has no further use—it has been replaced by Christ Himself.  Remember, Heb. 8:13 cannot contradict Matt. 5:17.  Star Scott likes Matt 5:17 and quotes it a lot to bring back the Old Testament authority structures.  The law being obsolete obviously does not mean there is no further use for the Old Testament: there are still prophecies that need to be fulfilled out of the Old Testament so it clearly cannot be entirely useless.  However, it is also clear from Hebrews that the aspects of the old law that had to do with how God led His people under the old covenant were made obsolete when Christ died.  The Mosaic aspects, the priestly aspects, and the ceremonial aspects of the law were made obsolete because they were fulfilled in Christ.  Star Scott’s reason for gravitating to these Old Testament authority structures is the same reason all cults gravitate towards them:  it gives him more power and control.  The danger he faces, however, is that the power and authority he is taking has been given to Christ.

Star Scott: “Yet, everything in man says, ‘No, I have a responsibility to myself.’”

Yeah, every man does have a responsibility to himself according to Phil.2:12 which commands us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  Furthermore, every man must give account before God for themselves, so yeah, we should take that responsibility very seriously.  That means if Star Scott says something against the Bible, I must go against Star Scott because I will be held accountable to God for what I choose to do.  We stopped at Heb. 10:18, but let us move on to what directly followed: v. 19 starts with a “therefore.”  That means what the author is about to say is a direct result of what he just said:

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with water.”   Heb. 10:19-22

What this means is that it is of great importance that you as an individual understand your Christ-given responsibility to approach God for yourself.  It is absolutely not the responsibility of your pastor or any other man to draw near to God for you.  Each man must draw near for himself in full assurance that Christ has made the way for us to approach our God.  You do have a responsibility to yourself.

Star Scott: “That’s what Eve said when Satan offered her the opportunity to have her eyes opened so she no longer had to depend upon God or upon Adam as a covering. ‘I can now hear directly from God.’ If you don’t recognize that spirit, you will be very susceptible to deception–especially in these hours that are coming upon us.”

 

No, that’s not what Eve said.  Eve’s reasoning was that she would be made like God.  Scripture records nothing of her saying “I have a responsibility to myself.”  She also didn’t sin so she could ‘now hear directly from God.’  She already heard directly from God, every evening in the garden.  To use the example of Eve looking to be free from God as a correlation to a congregant wanting to be free from abusive church leadership looks a lot like “‘Christianese’ — using Christian language, spiritual words, and Bible references–to somehow camouflage our self will and how we see ourselves” to quote Star Scott.  Moreover, Scott’s own correlation puts him in the part of the analogy that God is in.  Further evidence of a faulty correlation.

 

Point (8) shows that according to Heb. 8:11, we now do hear directly from God.  Adam and Eve heard directly from God in the garden, and that direct link to God was broken when Adam sinned.  Part of God’s promise in His new covenant is that He would restore that relationship to man with the death of His Son.  So “hearing directly from God” is not a rebellious spirit that would make us susceptible to deception, it’s the promise God made in the new covenant.  It’s part of what makes the new covenant established on better promises.  The new covenant is salvation.  “They all will know me, from the least to the greatest.”  Again, Star Scott is found in a place of saying the exact opposite of what Scripture says.

Star Scott Claim #2.

The thought that a pastor could hear from God “on a higher level” than an individual believer makes no sense when viewed in the context of Hebrews.  Let’s pretend for a second that we found a verse like that in the middle of Hebrews.  So we have “There remains a rest for the people of God (Heb. 4:9),” “Seeing we have a high priest who is ascended into heaven…let us boldly approach God’s throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16),” “No longer will they teach their neighbor or say to one another ‘Know the Lord’ because they will all know me from the least to the greatest (Heb. 8:11),” and “God gave Pastor Scott authority to hear from Him on a higher level than you do (Book of Bob 1:1).”  That last one doesn’t make sense in light of the Word of God…who wrote that last one?

Star Scott, Knowing God’s Voice, Hearing God’s Will Pt. 2, January 20, 2008:

“As we study the Word of God, I think there’s a great error in the church as it pertains to revelation of God’s will and order for His church. We live in a day when everyone seems to believe that we can hear equally. I want to share with you that that’s not a biblical principle.”

Star Scott needs to read Hebrews 8.  According to point (9) taken from Hebrews 8:11, it is a Biblical principle.  It actually serves as one of the pivotal points in God’s promises under the new covenant, that we would no longer need each one his neighbor to tell him “know the Lord,” because we would each know God for ourselves (Heb. 8:11).  Star Scott speaks of an inequality as being God’s desire for His people.  This flies in the face of the remainder of that prophecy:  “For they all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them.”  This is not speaking of some hierarchy that God is trying to establish in the church.  Taking point (9) and Heb. 10:19-22 together, we see that the purpose of what Jeremiah was saying is that our knowledge of God would now be equal, and we can as individuals have unbridled access into the holy of holies.

Star Scott, Knowing God’s Voice, Hearing God’s Will Pt. 2, January 20, 2008:

“Aren’t you thankful that the Spirit of God lives in every one of us, and that the Spirit within you leads you into all truth? Can you say, “Praise God!” for that?  Yet, the methods that He uses many times are misunderstood. We live in a day when we’ve lost sight of the fact that God predominantly speaks to men that are placed by Him in roles of leadership…You’re going to be deceived and you’re going to become shipwrecked if you refuse to understand that God has put counselors, overseers, and spiritual authority into your life who will speak to you the Word of God. They hear the Word of God from a different perspective and on a different level than you hear it. We don’t like to hear that. We think we’re all equal, but I’m here to tell you that we are not.”

This quote is innately flawed, because he says just before it “Aren’t you thankful that the Spirit of God lives in every one of us, and that the Spirit within you leads you into all truth? Can you say, “Praise God!” for that?”  Whether he realizes it or not, he is quoting John 16:13, which is referring to the Holy Spirit.  Concerning the context we will now show it below:

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.”                  John 16:13-15

Honestly, if Scott had just said the first part of the quote and not gone on to pervert its meaning, he would have probably been able to truly encourage someone.  It’s so true, that Christ promised the Holy Spirit who is equally God, would come down and reside within us as Christians, and would lead us into all truth.  The power of that statement is found in that the Spirit will disclose what He hears from the Father. But by adding his own twist by saying next that “We live in a day when we’ve lost sight of the fact that God predominantly speaks to men that are placed by Him in roles of leadership,” he has created a flawed logic that looks like this:

  • TRUTH: God the Son promised He would send the Holy Spirit to reside within you.
  • TRUTH: God in the form of the Holy Spirit resides within you.
  • TRUTH:  His job is to guide you into all truth—He does this from within you.
  • WHAT?  But God predominantly speaks through men from outside of you.
  • FALSE:  Therefore, the men that are outside of you are more capable that the Holy Spirit within you.
  • FALSE:  God has chosen to speak predominantly through another man and not through Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit that is within you.
  • FALSE:  You will become “spiritually shipwrecked” if you listen to the Holy Spirit within you over the men outside of you.

The problem with this flawed logic, besides being illogical, is that it goes against Scripture—in particularly it makes no sense within the context of Hebrews or John 16.  This also brings up another problem: if God went through all the trouble to remove the need for a human priest which was imperfect, and to replace that old covenant with the perfect work of Christ who is able to bring us into the very throne room of God, why would He then replace that imperfect priest with an imperfect pastor and not with Christ?  Why would He then insert another man in between Himself and His people?

The reason Scott can get away with the above logical fallacy is his teaching on conscience.  Conscience is a four-letter word at Calvary Temple.  Even as recently as April 2012, I heard him teaching on conscience during his sermons on doctrines of devils and seducing spirits (aka people who tell you that you should leave Calvary Temple…probably not the original Greek but close enough for Scott).  He said that our consciences were pure before the fall, but they became neutral after the fall.  The thrust of his argument is that, as the Bible says our hearts are desperately wicked, our consciences can lead us wrong.  We need the Word of God to be over our consciences, and we need the men of God as He set His order in the church to help us properly interpret the Bible, Scott says.  Again, this is nothing short of placing a man between a believer and his God.

This is the main reason I included point (9): because Star Scott terrifies his congregation into believing that their consciences are bent towards evil and therefore they need him to help them see truth.  This is not sound doctrine, as Hebrews 9 and 10 show clearly that the sacrifice of Christ has cleansed us from an evil conscience, not Star Scott.  Therefore, Scott finds himself once again in a position of taking upon himself the authority and power given solely to Christ, as well as preaching something in direct opposition to Scripture.

Conclusion

Looking at all of these things, I must say that pastoral authority is not priestly.  What Hebrews makes abundantly clear is that the role of high-priest has been reserved for Christ, and all priestly functions belong to him.  He never describes a New Testament pastor in any priestly terms or with any priestly functions.  This is because priestly authority has been reserved for Christ.  Therefore, it cannot be reserved for a pastor, and if a pastor wants to claim that authority, he has to take it from Christ.

Furthermore, pastoral authority cannot be Mosaic.  Hebrews 3 makes it sufficiently clear that Jesus superseded Moses in every way, and His work superseded Moses’ work in every way.  The only way then to claim Mosaic authority is to supersede Christ.  As all authority belongs to Him, I imagine you would have a difficult time taking it from Him.  Also, I don’t think you would want to be in the position of claiming that the authority that was expressly given solely to Christ actually belongs to you.

One more thing.  Part of good exegesis is to understand the occasion that called for the authorship of the Epistle.  In the case of Hebrews, his audience had lost sight of the goodness of Christ, the superiority of His finished work, and His continual working in heaven that effectively made the law obsolete.  They wanted to look to men for what could only be given to them by Christ.  I posit that the audience of Calvary Temple finds themselves in a similar condition.  This makes the book of Hebrews profoundly applicable to their case.

If you are a current member of Calvary Temple, I urge you to challenge your current beliefs concerning ‘the role of a pastor’ with the Book of Hebrews. I do not want to be guilty of the same thing I accuse Star Scott of.  I implore you to read the Bible and allow God to reveal its meaning to you: go your way and study Hebrews for yourself.  See for yourself what God intended to communicate in this letter.  And if you think Brandon = hogwash, skip over my notes and just read the sections that are directly out of an NIV Bible.  You certainly don’t need my comments to understand what is so clearly put before us in those 10 chapters.  And then compare for yourself: see if Scripture matches with the claims Star Scott makes.

As for me, I believe I have seen very clearly.  It’s no wonder that in my 20 years at Calvary Temple, I was never taught out of those 10 chapters of Hebrews, except for maybe a verse here or there as it fit a sermon topic.  I did not even know these things were in the Bible.  Whenever I heard about the equal access of all believers, it was in a derogatory way as something rebels hold to in an effort to avoid “God’s established order in the church.”  And I never understood the high-priestly role of Christ.  Now that I understand that principle, I have such a deeper appreciation for the work of the cross and the power that has been afforded to me by Christ.

My prayer is that you would come to the same understanding.

~Brandon

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Biblical Authority: Pastoral Authority is not Mosaic and it is not Priestly | Part 1 of 3

Part 1 of 3: Hebrews 1-6      

In our discussion of pastoral authority, we have established that a pastor’s authority originates in, is limited by, and therefore must be reflective of Scripture.  Using that as our foundation, we next want to look at some of the authority types that Scripture specifically designates to others.  These are areas in which Scripture has expressly placed functional authority on someone other than the pastor, and therefore that authority cannot possibly be reserved for the pastor.  The first area we are going to look at is this: a pastor’s authority is not Mosaic and it is not priestly.

What we mean by Mosaic are those functions that Moses performed in his leadership of the children of Israel.  Moses spoke to God for the people and to the people for God.  When God had a word for the congregation of Israel, He spoke it first to Moses who then spoke it to the people in such a way that the words of Moses were the words of God.  When someone stood against Moses, God struck him down.  Star Scott teaches that he enjoys the same authority and functionality of Moses as it relates to his congregation.

What we mean by priestly are those functions that the Bible describes as belonging to a priest, in particular the high-priestly function of mediation between God and the people.  Star Scott has even referred to his office within the church as the same as the high priestly office of the Old Testament.  This is slightly different from the function of Moses; and while there are similarities in his application of this combined role, we want to separate them in scope and deal with them individually.  Therefore, we want to include in our discussion that pastoral authority is #1 not Mosaic and #2 it is not priestly in nature.  Our two claims form the converse of the following:

Star Scott Claim #1: God used the example of Moses leading the children of Israel to establish pastoral authority in our lives. This example perfectly correlates to the New Testament five fold ministry gifts. 

Proposed Supporting Scripture: Ps. 77:20

Star Scott, Steps of the Good Man Pt. 3, April 25, 2010:

“There is a very interesting example in the Scripture that shows how God led the flock of God, or the people of God, and Moses as the shepherd of that covenant people, “Thou leddest Thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (Psalm 77:20). So, as He is leading them like a flock by the hand of Moses, we begin to see the method that God used was to put people in authority in our lives. He establishes divine order as a primary method of leading us as a flock…Most of us, though, are not concerned with how He leads the church; we’re concerned with how He’s leading me. And the minute we begin to think about me, and not how we fit into the community, we have already perverted the reason for wanting to know the will of God. Because our desire for knowing the will of God should be, “How can I better edify the body of Christ? How can I be used more for the glory of God?” When we have that kind of heart attitude, we are in a place where we can hear what the Holy Spirit wants to say to us. But, if we are not careful that competitive spirit which is in every one of us, our desire to compete for to advance in temporal areas, which are secular, instead of eternal and spiritual, will arise because that’s what is in us without the dominance of the Holy Spirit. Then, especially in Christians, our rebellion is often wrapped in “Christianese” — using Christian language, spiritual words, and Bible references–to somehow camouflage our self will and how we see ourselves.  “God led them by the hand of Moses;” what a beautiful passage.  Look at Psalm 77; it is so good that you need to look at it. The Lord is being exalted throughout this whole Psalm: “I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings;” (verse 12), “Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.” (verse 14) Speaking of the greatness of God–the bigness of God: “The voice of Thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.” (Verse 18) Just the majesty of God! Then it says, “Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” (Verse 20) Now, in the midst of all of that there is a powerful statement made there. We see all of the majestic aspects of the holy God we serve–His omnipotence and His immensity–we stand in awe, then it says exactly what we have been studying in Ephesians, that God chose an order and established it in their midst: there is an order in the kingdom of God; there is an order in the church; there is an order in the home. Yet, everything in man says, “No, I have a responsibility to myself.” That’s what Eve said when Satan offered her the opportunity to have her eyes opened so she no longer had to depend upon God or upon Adam as a covering. “I can now hear directly from God.” If you don’t recognize that spirit, you will be very susceptible to deception–especially in these hours that are coming upon us.”

Star Scott Claim #2: The New Testament’s five-fold ministry gifts hear the voice of God and the will of God for an individual believer on a higher level than that individual believer.  God gifts them with a superior perspective on Scripture that makes then better able to interpret its meaning.

Proposed Supporting Scripture: no verses directly cited

Star Scott, Knowing God’s Voice, Hearing God’s Will Pt. 2, January 20, 2008:

“As we study the Word of God, I think there’s a great error in the church as it pertains to revelation of God’s will and order for His church. We live in a day when everyone seems to believe that we can hear equally. I want to share with you that that’s not a biblical principle. Aren’t you thankful that the Spirit of God lives in every one of us, and that the Spirit within you leads you into all truth? Can you say, “Praise God!” for that? Yet, the methods that He uses many times are misunderstood. We live in a day when we’ve lost sight of the fact that God predominantly speaks to men that are placed by Him in roles of leadership. We’re talking about the biblical representation of the lordship of Jesus, as He has set in the church (as it pleases Him) apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers, to teach and govern the body of Christ. You see, we live in a day when we still believe that each one of us has insight and input that is equal, but I want to share with you one thing. You’re going to be deceived and you’re going to become shipwrecked if you refuse to understand that God has put counselors, overseers, and spiritual authority into your life who will speak to you the Word of God. They hear the Word of God from a different perspective and on a different level than you hear it. We don’t like to hear that. We think we’re all equal, but I’m here to tell you that we are not.”

We could summarize Star Scott’s two claims to mean that pastoral authority is Mosaic and it is priestly.  Our counter-argument is that the method God used in Moses leading the children of Israel does not correlate to New Testament Christianity.  Furthermore, the idea that a pastor hears from God on a higher level than an individual believer—effectively placing that pastor in the role of an Aaronic high-priest—does not fit with the New Testament gospel message.  What each claim effectively does is places another human between man and God, such that a) Christian –> pastor –> (Son, Father, Holy Spirit) and/or b) (Son, Father, Holy Spirit) –> pastor –> Christian.  The leadership at Calvary Temple isn’t too concerned about (a): you can talk to God all you want.  Their concern is (b): they want to hear from God for you.

I do not intend to use a verse-here-and-a-verse-there to substantiate the counter-claim.  Rather I feel that as a whole, the book of Hebrews speaks very clearly on this subject, especially in Hebrews 1:1—10:18.  As the results of Scott’s claims are as significant as they are, I think it necessary to go through these 10 chapters in their entirety.  The purpose and context of Hebrews can speak for itself, and there is no need to pull out a few verses on their own—I would not want to be guilty of the same proof texting that brought him to his claims.  As such, let us suspend judgment for the time being and examine this passage of Scripture first.  This being our goal, we will be reading all 10 chapters.

As such, this will be a large article.  To keep it readable, I will split it into three parts.  I do not intend to write a commentary on Hebrews.  Our goal is to understand the author’s message, and we can save the nuances and intricacies of each section for another day.  That being said, I do not think that the nuances and intricacies would in any way contradict the very clear and straightforward theme of the book.  I will summarize where appropriate, when the writer has finished a thought and moved on to the next.

One final thing is that I personally prefer to read long passages without chapter and verse superscripts.  I don’t consider this a more spiritual exercise; I just think that the author wrote it as a letter.  We don’t receive a letter in the mail, read the middle three sentences, and walk away assuming we understand the entire letter.  Our standard chapter and verse format can create a start-here-stop-there tendency that causes the train of thought to be broken up and lost.  With that in mind, let’s move on to Hebrews and place the two claims and two counter-claims to the side to be revisited later.  We are reading out of the NIV translation.

Hebrews

Author: Uncertain

Audience: The letter is simply addressed “To the Hebrews.”  The context within the letter shows that the intended audience was most likely converted Jews who were trying to understand how the old covenant fit into their new faith in Christ, and who were in danger of slipping back into Judaism.

Theme: The completed work of Christ and the ongoing work of Christ is better than and supersedes the old covenant.

To the Hebrews

Section 1: Christ is better than angels (ch. 1:1-14)

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.  For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father”(
Psalm 2:7)?

Or again,

“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”(
2 Samuel 7:14)?

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”(Deut. 32:43)

In speaking of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels spirits,
and his servants flames of fire.”(
Psalm 104:4)

But about the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.”(
Psalm 45:6,7)

He also says,

“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.”(
Psalm 102:25-27)

To which of the angels did God ever say,

“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet”?(
Psalm 110:1)

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

In section 1, the author introduces the Son as heir of all things, the maker of the universe, the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact representation of His being (1:2-3).  This is a glorious introduction and while the author has not expressly named Jesus (as he will in 2:9), it is obvious whom he is talking about.  He goes on to say that the Son provided purification for sins and then sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (1:3).  This is important because it was a priestly function to provide for the purification of sins and the audience would have known that.  Saying that the Son sat down at the right hand of God represents both the finality and completion of his task (of providing purification for sins), and a position of honor given to no other.  This leads directly into his first point of argument, which is that Christ is better than angels.  This is even more significant to his audience, as Jews in this time period had a very high regard for angels.

He does this by referring to Messianic prophecies and how they show the Messiah as higher than angels.  The selected verses accomplish this in the following way:

  1. Ps. 2:7 demonstrates the Father naming the Messiah the Son, a right given to no angel. (1:5)
  2. 2 Sam 7:14 was widely regarded by the Jews as being Messianic in nature, and acts as a second witness to Ps. 2:7 (1:5)
  3. Deut. 32:43 put the Son in a position of being worshipped by angels.  Worship is always from the lesser to the greater. (1:6)
  4. He next compares the role of angels in Ps. 104:4 to the role of the Son in Ps. 45:6-7.  The role of the angels is as created servants, while the Son is begotten and is given a position of dominion. (1:7-9)
  5. Ps. 102:25-27 shows God (and therefore the Son) as changeless in an eternal way that is significant in the author’s comparison of Christ to angels. (1:10-12)
  6. Ps. 110:1; the author introduces for the first time what is considered his primary supporting passage throughout the book.  In verse 1, he shows that God said not to the angels, but to the Son ‘sit at my right hand,’ which is a position of honor. (1:13)

The author then introduces salvation (1:14) as a means to diverge from his main theme momentarily to give a stern admonition, which is seen at the beginning of the next chapter.

Section 1b: An admonition concerning salvation.  (ch. 2:1-4)

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Section 1b gives us insight into the occasion for writing the letter.  The author breaks from his main thought for a moment to offer an admonition to his audience concerning slipping away from/neglecting their salvation (2:1-4).  The author seems to be writing partly out of concern that these converted Jews were in danger of neglecting the better work of Christ because of a preoccupation with the old covenant that was now obsolete (8:13).  He viewed this on the same level as apostatizing.   Their danger was slipping away from Christ’s better covenant and slipping back into Judaism.

The author then returns to his description of the Son, only now he wants to convince his audience of the Son’s complete humanity.  His trains of thought in sections 1 and 2 will support his developing thesis that Christ is our High Priest.  Sections 1 and 2 are used to develop Christ’s unique candidacy for the position.

Section 2: Christ’s complete humanity qualifies Him as our High Priest (ch. 2:5-18)

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?
You made them a little lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honor
and put everything under their feet.”(Ps. 8:4-6)

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.  But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.  Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.  He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.”(Ps. 22:22)

And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”(Is. 8:17)

And again he says,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”(Is. 8:18)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil —  and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.  For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

As he just showed in section 1 that Christ is higher than angels, he now must also show in section 2 that Christ was completely human.  This is in response to the anticipated objection that if Christ were not human, how could He serve as a) the final, complete sacrifice and also b) a perfect representative to God for the people as their High Priest.

He does this by use of Ps. 8.  The language he cited in Ps. 8:4-6 is really speaking of Christ, and that for a time He (Christ) was made a little lower than the angels until God elevated him to the status described in Ps. 8:6.  The author then moves on and finally introduces Jesus as the Son of whom he writes, and correlates him to the passage in Ps. 8 that he just cited. (2:5-9)

The rest of the chapter is devoted to demonstrating the humanity and suffering of Jesus as a way to show his qualifications as our High Priest.  This is seen when he said “for this reason he had to be made like them (2:17)” and continues on to show Jesus’s ability to help those who are tempted because he himself suffered when he was tempted (2:12-18).  In this manner, the author has established in chapters 1 and 2 that Christ is both higher than the angels and was made lower than the angels—both complete deity and complete humanity—in such a way that he is uniquely qualified to be our eternal High Priest.

Having demonstrated Christ’s perfect deity and humanity, the author moves on to show that Christ is better than Moses.

Section 3: Christ is better than Moses (ch. 3:1-19)

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.  Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.“Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”(Num. 12:7) bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future.  But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did.
That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ “(Ps. 95:7-11)

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.  As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”(Ps. 95:7-8)

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?  And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness?  And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?  So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Section 3: Having developed in his readers’ minds that Jesus is qualified to be our high priest, he now is able to declare it as fact (3:1).  He then goes on to show that Jesus superseded Moses.  It is always important when reading an epistle to ask, “why did he say that? What is his motivation?” We can answer the “why” through an understanding of the epistle’s context.  Why Christ’s superiority to Moses is important after he just established that He was higher than angels is much more readily seen in Israel’s history than it is in our own.  Moses was held in almost deified status—even higher than angels.  So for Christ to be higher than angels does not necessarily establish in the audience’s mind that He is also higher than Moses.  This is a crucial piece of information because the author is trying to show that Christ supersedes every area of the old covenant.

The author says that Jesus is worthy of greater honor than Moses (3:3), just as the builder is greater than the house.  This creates a bridge for the author to show that Moses was faithful as a servant in God’s house, but Christ is faithful as a Son in God’s house (3:5-6).  In this way, a son is always greater than a servant in a house.  He then uses the bridge he just created to show that we are the house of Christ (i.e. Body of Christ) if we hold fast our confidence in salvation (3:6).

That the writer would then use the account of the Hebrew children rebelling in the wilderness (3:7-19) is natural, as the Old Testament theme seems to be on his mind throughout the book.  He also shows the failure of the people under the leading of Moses, further demonstrating the superiority of Christ who would not fail.  Moreover, he shows that their great sin was unbelief (3:12,19).  It was because of their unbelief that they were not allowed entrance to the Promised Land, typified in Ps. 95 as “the rest of God.”  He then restates what Ps. 95 demonstrated in order to reinforce and summarize “they could not enter because of their unbelief.”  This means that “the children of Israel’s inability to enter into the Promised Land because they did not believe in God’s promise to give them the land” correlated to “the Hebrew audience would be in danger of not entering the rest found in salvation because of an unbelief in Jesus’ finished work to provide it for them.”

Section 4: Christ is superior to Joshua in that He is able to bring us to rest (ch. 4:1-13)

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.  Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”(Ps. 95:11)

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world.  For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”(Gen. 2:2)  And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience,God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.:(Ps. 95:7-8)

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.  There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.  Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

If anyone is following along in their Bibles, you will see that I stopped at 4:13 and didn’t finish the chapter out.  That is because 4:14-16 more readily fits into the next theme the author intends to develop in 4:14-9:14, that is, Christ as a superior High Priest.

Section 4: Concerning the passage above, the intent is to show a) Christ is better than Joshua (4:8), and b) the rest that was promised to Israel remains and is attainable through Christ.  Starting with (b), the chapter starts with the author referring to Ps. 95 where God is commanding Israel that their hearts not be hardened, for that caused Him to swear that they would not enter His rest (4:1-3).  The author is looking chronologically and making the point that God would not say a long time later in Ps. 95 that the rest He promised still remained (4:7) if Israel had attained that rest upon entering the Promised Land.  In this way, the author introduces the idea of rest as a promise that remains to the people of God (4:9), and states that this new rest involves a putting down of the old works required in Judaism (4:10).  He then exhorts the audience to enter into that rest that God has provided them through faith in the finished work of Jesus (4:11).

The author’s description of the Word of God in 4:12-13 is in reference to God’s ability to discern between true faith and the disobedience of unbelief.  This is seen readily in the context of the author’s train of thought: namely that Christians need to be different from the disobedient, unbelieving Israelites that could not enter the rest of God.  His point: God knows your heart, so be diligent to enter into His rest through faith, lest He find you unbelieving.

After establishing that Christ is better than Joshua and that He has secured a rest that Joshua could not, the author resumes his discourse on Christ’s high-priestly role and His ability to bring us into the new covenant.

Section 5a: Christ’s High Priesthood compared to the Aaronic Priesthood (ch. 4:14-5:10)

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 

 I debated on whether to put 4:14-16 in section 4 or section 5.  Traditionally, it is viewed as belonging to the same train of thought as found in section 5.  However, the “therefore” at the beginning of 4:14 shows that its context is related to what directly preceded.  I think it best to view it as a transitioning thought.  It restates the reason  for Christ’s High-Priesthood as well as introducing the author’s next train of thought: comparing Christ’s High-Priesthood to Aaron’s.

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.  And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.

In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,

“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.”(Ps. 2:7)

And he says in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”(Ps. 110:4)

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him  and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Section 5 continues with a description of the qualities found in a priest.  The author is going to show that a priest has been appointed to represent the people before God (5:1), to offer sacrifice (5:3), and to deal gently with the weak (5:2).  A priest did not bestow the honor of priesthood upon himself, but must be called of God as Aaron was (5:4).  In this way, the author begins his comparison between Christ and Aaron.

Similarly, Christ did not call Himself to be a priest, but it was prophesied in Ps. 2:7 and Ps. 110:4 that God would appoint His Son a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek (5:5-6).  Sticking with his comparison between old covenant priests and Christ, the author describes in 5:7-8 Christ’s suffering and ability to empathize with His people (referring to the qualifications found in 5:2).  Remembering his thoughts in ch. 2, he reiterates that it was Christ’s suffering that allowed Him to be glorified as the source of our salvation and a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (5:9-10).

Before the author continues his comparison of Christ’s high-priesthood to Aaron’s, he breaks from his train of thought to offer a stern admonition in 5:11-6:20.

Interlude: a Brief Interruption in Thought to Bring Admonition (ch. 5:11-6:20)

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,and of faith in God,  instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  And God permitting, we will do so.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age  and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation.  God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”(Gen.22:17)And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument.  Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Interlude:  After introducing Melchizedek in 5:10, the author finds the occasion to bring another admonition.  This one gives us even greater insight into the purpose of his letter and the state of his audience.  He calls them “dull of hearing (KJV)” and tells them that they should be teaching these principles by now (5:11-12).  This further indicates that his audience is converted Jews who had been raised studying scripture and Messianic prophecy, unlike the Gentile pagans who had heard nothing of a coming Christ.  For this reason, the author is concerned about their state as converts to Christianity who are in danger of slipping away from their newfound salvation.

The passage in 6:4 has become one of much debate as to what exactly the author meant, but it is sufficient to say that he saw the necessity to instruct his audience to not fall away into this type of apostasy that would crucify Christ afresh and lead to an unrepentant state.  His analogy in 6:7-8 is in reference to the audience having received the blessings of God but having not produced the appropriate fruit.  His tone changes in 6:9 when he says “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case” and begins to encourage them with the example of Abraham having faith in the oath that God made to him (6:13-18).

The remainder of the section transitions back to the author’s thought he was going to develop in 5:10; that is, the priestly order of Melchizedek (6:19-20).

Summary of Part 1: Hebrews 1-6

In the first six chapters of Hebrews, we can construct the following outline:

  • Section 1: Christ is superior to angels (1:1-14)
    • An admonition concerning salvation (2:1-4)
  • Section 2: Christ’s complete humanity qualifies Him to be our High Priest (2:5-18)
  • Section 3: Christ is superior to Moses (3:1-19)
  • Section 4: Christ is superior to Joshua in that He is able to bring us to rest (4:1-13).
  • Section 5a: Christ’s High Priesthood compared to the Aaronic Priesthood (4:14-5:10)
    • Another admonition concerning maturity, falling away, and faith (5:11-6:20)

In Part 2 of 3, we are going to examine through Hebrews 10:18 and complete the outline with the below:

  • Section 5b: Christ’s High Priesthood is superior to Aaron’s high priesthood (7:1-28)
  • Section 6: Christ is our High Priest and God’s new covenant supersedes the old. (8:1-13)
  • Section 7: Christ is the testator and mediator of the new covenant (9:1-28)
  • Section 8: Christ is the final sacrifice; summary thoughts (10:1-18)

Concerning Heb. 1-6, the author has developed numerous points to support his chief claim that Christ is our High Priest.  Each of these serves to communicate the implications of that chief claim, and altogether the entirety of the argument succinctly shows that Christ is better than the old covenant.  This is a thought that is much less difficult for us to grasp, as most of us were not raised in Judaism.  But for his audience, the difficulty in understanding this point seems almost insurmountable.  Yet the author was convinced of better things for them.

We will not yet discuss the opening claims concerning pastoral authority, as we need to cover more of Hebrews first.  For now, understand that my objective is to have you understand the purpose of Hebrews.  By understanding the purpose, you can more easily grasp the theme.  Keeping the theme in mind, you will clearly see the context, which is our goal.  Context makes the Bible come alive, and acts as a steward over the individual verses.

What we have laid out as the context of Hebrews is not our unique interpretation.  It has been accepted by the overwhelming majority of Christians as the plain message of the book.  Always remember this: if you have found a unique interpretation of any passage of the Bible, it is probably wrong.  It is not our ambition to uncover truths that have never been uncovered before. If you are from Calvary Temple keep this in mind: something can be unique to you because you’ve never heard it before—that doesn’t make it unique to Christianity.  What I mean is this: don’t discount what I’ve said in this article because you’ve never heard it before.  Study it out for yourself.  Even if you think Brandon’s writing = hogwash, just read the parts of this article that are directly quoted from an NIV Bible.  Once we are all agreed on the context, we can move on to the specific arguments that were laid out at the beginning of this article.  That will be the purpose of Part 3.  But for now, please read on in Part 2 concerning Hebrews 7-10:18.

~Brandon

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Resource: The Purpose & Limits of Authority by Carter Conlon

We have been extremely blessed over the years by the ministry of David Wilkerson. Through his tireless devotion in starting Teen Challenge and also founding Times Square Church in New York City, authoring countless books that have edified the Church and preaching truth accurately over the course of his lifetime, he has proven himself as a humble man of God. Eventually, Carter Conlon became the senior pastor of Times Square Church and continues in the same spirit of simple, honest and careful Bible preaching.

Have you ever wondered if your church (i.e. Calvary Temple) is misusing or abusing spiritual authority? This sermon may help you to answer that question.

Understanding Spiritual Authority (Part 2): The Purpose & Limits of Authority by Carter Conlon

 

As an aside: This teaching was brought to the attention of Star Scott and his response was, “David’s gotten ‘off’ in recent years.”  We submit that the fruit of David Wilkerson’s teaching and ministry is much more far-reaching and eternal than anything of Calvary Temple or Star Scott. David Wilkerson has been consistently accurate in his prophecies and blameless in his conduct throughout his seventy-nine years of life. We highly doubt that he had gotten “off.” And besides, this message was preached by Carter Conlon so it seems to be a moot point.

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Why We Use the Word “Cult”

The word “cult” is a stumbling block to many, and we recognize that it is most definitely a stumbling block to some of our readers; the friends and family that are still involved with Calvary Temple. Current members are aghast that you would believe that they are a cult. They don’t understand how you can assume that if Pastor Scott told them to drink poison that they would do that?! While some cults drink poison (ex. Jim Jones), it’s not a requirement of cult-definition.

The World English Dictionary defines “cult” as a quasi-religious organization using devious psychological techniques to gain and control adherents.

It is with great soberness that we wield this word. We believe that some members of Calvary Temple are genuine believers in Christ. Some are very sincere… yet sincerely wrong. We choose to use the word “cult” in spite of its inflammatory nature, because we believe it most accurately portrays the characteristics of Calvary Temple in Sterling, VA. Because of the intense devotion of the church’s members to their pastor, which goes beyond what much of the Christian world would consider normal or healthy. And because of the twisted perversion of Scriptural authority structures in the attempt to control the lives of Calvary Temple’s members.

Yes, Calvary Temple is a cult. And you should leave.

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