February 15, 2016

Protecting the Pastorate, Clay Nuttall

The scriptures are clear concerning the man who is pastor, shepherd, elder, bishop, and overseer. His qualifications, role, responsibility, and limitation are plainly stated. In my book, “The Weeping Church; Confronting the Crisis of Church Polity,” all of this is carefully outlined. The book has been in constant publication since 1985. I am amazed at how often people take the liberty of ignoring or rewriting the Bible text, particularly on this subject. Almost every local church problem goes back to this issue. Of course, the roots of those problems are sin and pride; but God blesses only what He orders. If a church is organized in such a way as to create and feed conflict, one should not be surprised when it breaks out. Everything man touches is flawed, but the closer we can stay to the plain, clear statements of the Word, the more likely we are to have peace. Right now in our country we are living out the tragedy of this kind of ignorance. Creditable historians know that this country is a republic, not a democracy. Democracies always end in tragedy, and there are clear historical reasons as to why that is true. A republic has the rule of law, and people are meant to be treated in that way. So I have often asked, “Where did the concept of democracy in a local church come from?”  If you found it in the text, it is only because you inserted it there.


God always makes things simple for us; we are the ones who make them complicated. We often do that on purpose in order to confuse people so that we can get away with making the Bible agree with us. This is the problem with the average concept of the pastor in our churches. Pastors are often installed in local churches as errand boys or merely someone to fill the pulpit. A local church is a flock, and it needs a qualified under-shepherd. Christ is the Chief Shepherd, and He is the one who appoints these under-shepherds. The prayerful task of the local church is to find out who Christ has appointed for them. The church should be seeking the will of God rather than the will of the people or a flawed majority. Churches languish because, in the flesh, they think they have a better idea. The selection process of a congregation often follows the pattern of the nation of Israel in its choice of King Saul. They thought they needed a man who was tall, dark, and handsome. Who cares about the heart of the man, let alone what is in his mind? That is why people are so easily fooled - you don’t always get exactly what you see. Sad to say, candidates are not always truthful. More than one prospect has hidden his questionable theology; then, when his error comes to the surface, he is so firmly settled in that the people are not willing to stand up and be counted. On the other hand, they would fight over the color of the carpet at the drop of a hat! What percentage of local churches has leaders with enough knowledge of the scripture to ask the kinds of questions that would smoke out a theological “wolf in sheep’s clothing?”  That’s the problem: they only think they do. We would have to add to this mix the intention of a candidate to change the flavor and format of church function. All these changes may not actually be a biblical question, but hiding the intent to do so is. If the prospect had been honest and had outlined his prospective changes that would scatter the sheep, the door would have closed - and he knows that. Christ is fully aware of, and has not forgotten, these questionable and sinful assaults on the local church.


On the other hand, the local church often practices bad habits in order to control conflict and protect itself. The clear answers to unrest in church polity are clearly stated in God’s Word, and they are the only way a church can solve difficulty in its fellowship. Some have chosen simply to do away with the real shepherd of the sheep. If you don’t have a pastor, then fifty percent of your problem is gone - right? They forget this: But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36) A flock without a true shepherd will falter and eventually be destroyed. The function of a shepherd cannot be fulfilled by a false shepherd or a hireling. (John 10:12) Only the qualified (I Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-10), a Christ-appointed shepherd (I Peter 5:1-4), can fully carry out that ministry of the pastor, elder, and bishop. The Chief Shepherd appoints, qualifies, empowers, and approves true shepherds. Be careful with your human response to this, but if a man does some shepherding, it does not mean he is a shepherd. This is a simple concept. When my wife was in the hospital, I had to do some mothering; but that didn’t make me a mother. Humans can put any title they wish on a man, but only Christ can designate one of His under-shepherds. Then there is the “Hagar Syndrome.”  They think they can solve the problem by multiplying the number of men they choose as pastor, elder. The text clearly states that churches had, and have, multiple pastors; and that is true if they are appointed by the Chief Shepherd. Often this is used as a smoke screen to build an oligarchy. This concept is in direct conflict with nature and the Bible standard. Leadership and headship are always singular.


So why are churches so quick to join theological bandwagons when they know that the wheels are coming off? Basically, it has to do with the humanly devised hermeneutic that is raging in the new church culture. Intellectuals have provided a plan whereby churches can “have it their way.”  Churches follow unbiblical polity because there is so little knowledge of the Bible. They know about the Bible, but have found a way to “fill in the blanks" in order to get their own way. This is often done by means of the abuse of language, the ignoring of context, or the twisting of historical information. Theological smart-alecks may have lot of information, but they are short on wisdom. Intellectualism draws young novices because it is important for them to “run with the big boys.”  They fall into error willingly, but seldom find their way out of the theological slime pit. The wise man will let the text speak for itself. The strong man will be willing to stand up for truth even where error has been practiced for generations. A holy God will bless what He orders, and that is how we protect the biblical pastorate.

Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.

A communication service of Shepherd's Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address Shepherdstaff2@juno.com 

February 1, 2016

Words Have Meaning

STOP IT; KNOCK IT OFF! Stop supporting evil, that is. We may not have meant to do it, but when our words give credence to wickedness, we need to stop using them. Let me give you an example. Why do intelligent, spiritual persons use the term “same-sex marriage?” There is no such thing. The only marriage that exists is the one that God instituted and which He controls. The term “same-sex marriage” is a lie. Every time it is used, it gives credibility to something that God has judged and condemned. To give encouragement to anything so heinous is an offence to a Holy God.

The offence grows more egregious when politically correct Evangelicals try to defend the use of nice words to describe bad things. It is moral insanity to argue that we must say nice things about sin in order not to offend sinners. To ignore sin of any kind is not being a “friend of sinners.” No one ever comes to Christ for salvation without first dealing with his or her sin. Those who practice “sloppy agape” argue that we all sin and that we need to deal with gossip, etc., before we deal with sodomy. We do need to deal with all our sin, but covering the sin of others is particularly offensive. The biblical doctrine of God’s holiness has all but disappeared in today’s culture-driven church, and God has written “Ichabod” over all those churches. The Word of God is nothing more than a fetish in the emerging/emergent church, and it continues to find ways to ignore the plain, clear teaching of scripture. When sin is a forbidden teaching, it provides a hothouse for the very thing that God commands us to forsake.


When I was a small child, the word “darn” would get a bar of soap put into my mouth, and I had to bite down on it. “Christianity astray” would consider that to be cruel punishment, but today’s practice of letting Christian teens run free with foul mouths is real cruelty. Those who love to defend sin would say my mother was a legalist. What they do not know is that my mother was a spiritual giant beside those spiritual pigmies who misuse the word “legalism.” It appears that the majority of people who use the term have no idea what it means. To them it is just another way to make man comfortable about sin.

Normally people would limit swearing to “taking the Lord’s name in vain.” Even that has become acceptable verbiage among professing Christians. Posts on social media as a habit include vulgar words and gutter talk. The sad thing is that no one says anything about it. This is not just a teen thing; adults who ought to know better spit out crude and vile words in their posts as well. They would be wise not to claim relationship to Christ, since unsaved people see no difference between their conversations and those of any worldling. Who needs a Christianity that sounds like a conversation from the damned?


This is the month that the abortion holocaust is remembered. Even now we have become numb to the brutal way unborn children are being dismembered every day. The silence in the midst of this terrible practice reminds us of the reason why people were silent while the Nazis slaughtered thousands of people daily. Fear was the main reason for a lack of response, but most of the Germans felt that there was nothing they could do. After all, it was the government, and so it was legal. In our guilt, we’ve had to find nice words for the killing of babies in the womb, so the real word “murder” is unacceptable.

Let me remind you that a thing is not legal if God has condemned it. Then why do professed believers line up to defend heinous practices? If we obey God and speak clearly to identify such evil, those who claim Christ line up to defend the crime. To speak strongly about some pseudo-law is viewed as being anti-government; but to side with the others and use nice words about evil is in fact anti-God.

It is no wonder that a holy God is obligated to judge any nation that embraces the murder of children. It is mind-boggling to know that people who claim to be Christians side with those who hate God. Words have meaning, and words need to reflect the view of a God who hates and always judges all sin.


These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imagination, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

If God hates all sins and prescribes capital punishment for some, why do some people spend so much time opposing what God has said? Why such effort to prove God wrong? Holiness is meant to be an affront to those who love sin. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (I Corinthians 1:18)

It appears that some folks don’t want to offend those who sin, but they don’t mind offending God. We need to be careful about deliberate personal offence to others. There is far too much meanness in our own circles, but it isn’t mean to make sin clear to the sinner. The truth is that real meanness is failing to tell the truth about sin, thus letting people plunge into hell or stand empty-handed at the Judgment Seat. It is dreadful to allow people to feel good here about sin and then let them discover in eternity that you really didn’t care.


It would help if people would take time to study the entire Bible on any subject, but then perhaps they don’t really want to know what God has said. One of the favorite mantras used by today’s “sin protectors” is to say that what God has said about sin is “judging.” It is obvious that they don’t want someone else asking questions about the sin in their own lives. Another defense is “love,” but love does not hide the truth from people. If there is danger, the loving person will say so. If that attack doesn’t work, then any old proof text will do. “Judge not lest ye be judged” is a favorite parley. Ignorance of Scripture is little different from deliberately denying what is the “plain, clear statement of the Bible text.” Remember this: a proof text without a context is a pretext.

Words do have meaning, and that meaning had better be what God has said and not what you have inserted into the text!

Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min.

A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address shepherdstaff2@juno.com or Shepherdstaff