Although the definition of an atheist is one that denies the existence of God, in this article I use the word to depict those identified as Christians who live as though there is no God to which they are accountable. Unfortunately, in my estimation, there is a very large percentage of Christians who live as functional atheists.
Many years ago, I came to the conclusion that understanding the Triune Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit was the key to release government, order and purpose on the earth. This has vast implications for how we function in every realm of life including politics, business, church, the arts and our leadership.
Through the years, I have discovered that the average Christian and a large number of church ministers lack a biblical worldview; by “BWV” I am referring to interpreting all of life through the lens of Scripture. That is to say, your view of politics, sanctity of life, marriage, economics, education, science and law is derived from biblical principles. The average believer only has a piecemeal understanding of Scripture instead of a comprehensive world and life view which has resulted in the church becoming irrelevant in the public square.
If we are going to fulfill our assignment as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we need to shift the Body of Christ towards a faith that is consistent, cohesive and comprehensive. Anything less than this will result in a continual declension of morality in civil society. The purpose of this article is to inspire believers to think God’s thoughts after Him regarding everything in faith and culture.
The following are ten signs you lack a biblical worldview
1-You think the word government refers only to politics
Often, I have asked Christ followers, “what is the first thing you think about when I say the word government”? Invariably the answer is always “the president, their governor or their mayor. Basically, they think of a political leader. This is because culture has been brainwashed by humanism the past hundred and fifty years to believe that civic government is responsible to take care of our every need. As a means to prove this, purchase a replica of Webster’s dictionary from the early 19th century and look up the word “government” and you will see that the first definition that pops up is “individual responsibility”, not political leadership. Oh, how far we have fallen in regards to this definition. Biblically speaking, there are five jurisdictions in Scripture, and civil government is just one of them. The other four are personal responsibility, family government, business, and church. When your view of government is only related to politics, it shows that your worldview is dominated by secularism instead of the Judeo/Christian worldview. (For more on this subject, read my book “Understanding the wineskin of the Kingdom”.)
2-You only know biblical passages dealing with spirituality
The average believer has no biblical reference for anything other then individual promises of God. They may know a passage on healing, prayer, financial blessing and the like but have no biblical understanding of principles related to civic government, history, business, or economics.
3-You believe big government is the solution to create financial prosperity
To quote Ronald Reagan, “Government is not the solution but the problem”! Although that is not always the case, in contemporary society we see that much of the time small business owners are so weighted down with regulations and high taxation that it is difficult for them to turn a profit. However, biblically speaking the government can step in at times with economic aid (E.G. like Joseph and Pharaoh feeding their people with crops during the seven years of famine; rd. Genesis chapter 41.) The preponderance of Scripture in both testaments shows that the primary responsibility of political leaders was to protect their citizens and provide just laws to ensure equal opportunity to all (Deut. 16:16-20; Prov.8: 15,16; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-4). In the Old Testament healthcare, care for the poor, and business ventures were primarily facilitated by the priests, families and individual believers (Exodus 22:20-24; Deut.27: 19; Isaiah 1:17; Zech.7: 9,10) all put the onus of responsibility on all the people, not just the Kings and political leaders. In the New Testament, the onus was on the church and families, not civil government (Rd. Acts 2; 1 Timothy 5).
4-You don’t know how the bible applies to your marketplace assignment
Many Christ followers think that the call to ministry is just for full time church leadership. When you believe that, you lack a biblical worldview because the Scripture clearly tells us that all people are called to be equipped for the work of the ministry to fill the earth with the reign of God (Ephesians 4:10-12). Consequently, every believer should understand how to use their vocation to glorify God whether in the church or marketplace.
5-You think civil government is responsible to educate your children
One of the greatest tragedies is when Christ followers allow the secular humanists to disciple their children with the worldview propagated in the public-school system. I am not against parents sending their children to public schools, as long as they use it as an opportunity to critique culture and disciple their kids with biblical values. Scripture puts the onus of education into the hand of the parents, not the government or even the church (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; the whole book of Proverbs).
6-You think the progressive tax structure is good
Most Christians think it is alright for half of the population of the USA to get away with paying no income tax and for people to pay more taxes percentage wise if they make more money; however, Scripture teaches a flat tax structure in which all people pay an equal share (the tithe, and the poll tax for the sanctuary (read Lev. 27:30-34; Numbers 18:21,26; Deut.14: 28,29, Amos 4:4,5; Matt.23: 23; Hebrews 7:1,2) which, in theocratic Israel, were used for the care for the poor, the support of the Levites, the upkeep of the temple and for the widows and orphans; in the pre-Mosaic law era, it was just ten percent as we see in Genesis 14:19, 28:20-22). The prophet Samuel warned the Jews against any political structure that requires a taxation equal to or more than the ten percent that God requires. (Read 1 Samuel 8).
7-You think a pastor should remain silent on social issues
As we examine Scripture we see that every biblical leader either prophesied or spoke about civic issues related to public policy. Moses and all the major and minor prophets in the Old Testament; Jesus, John the Baptist, the apostles Peter and Paul all dealt with moral and political issues in their contemporary culture. In spite of the fact that since the founding of the USA until 1954 (when the “Johnson Amendment” was used to silence churches from engaging in politics from the pulpit) pastors have always spoken about politics and engaged in culture. As a matter of fact, in the early years of the USA, congress would ask pastors to come and preach to them regarding a particular topic of concern before they debated and voted. During the “Second Great Awakening”, Evangelist Charles Finney’s ministry was the impetus for the abolitionist movement (Anti-slavery). In recent decades, we have seen religious leaders like Dietrich Bonheoffer stand against the fascist regime of Hitler in Nazi Germany, and Dr Martin Luther King use his pulpit to advance civil rights for African Americans. Imagine what would have happened had they believed the lie that Pastors should be silent on social issues? If you think a pastor should remain silent on issues related to elections, the sanctity of life, economics, health care, immigration and public policy then you lack a biblical worldview.
8-You believe Christians should separate their private faith from public policy
I have met many political leaders who said to me that “although they are privately “pro life” or for “biblical marriage” they will advocate for policies and laws that oppose their views. Their reason is that they do not think they have the right to impose their morality in a pluralistic society. My answer to them is that all laws are an imposition of someone’s morality upon society. You cannot avoid it; Jesus is the “King of Kings” (Revelation 19:16), which means that He is the Lawgiver for all nations and heads of state. This obligates the church to speak truth to power as the Salt of the earth and the Light of the world and obligates all political leaders to uphold biblical ethics in culture and policy.
9-You celebrate the values the world celebrates
I am amazed when I speak to Christians and they merely mimic the values and views promulgated by secular culture and mainstream media. If your views on marriage, life, sexuality, money, science, and ethics are essentially the same as contemporary culture then you have been indoctrinated by secularism and lack a biblical worldview.
10- You think science and religion are opposed to each other
Many believers think that the bible just speaks to spiritual and religious things but is not accurate when it comes to science. Although the bible is not a book on science, it does not mean it is scientifically inaccurate. Scripture teaches us that God uses nature to declare His glory (Psalm 19; Isaiah 40:12-26; Romans 1:19-23). How can creation describe His glory if His words about nature are not scientifically accurate? 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “all scripture is inspired by God”, not just passages dealing with spirituality. Furthermore, true science should never disallow supernaturalism when explaining the visible world. When science becomes totally naturalistic, it forces an agnostic or anti-theistic view of the cosmos upon scientists and educators which causes an unnecessary bifurcation between faith and reason. If you believe science and religion are opposed, then you lack a biblical worldview. (For an amazing documentary on this, view “Is Genesis History” by Del Tackett).
In conclusion, my hope and prayer is that this brief article triggers a hunger in many to study the scriptures more thoroughly so that they can have a biblical worldview in all of life. For more resources to obtain a biblical worldview read my books “Ruling in the Gates”; “Kingdom Revolution”; “Kingdom Awakening”; “Walk in Generational Blessing”; “Understanding the Wineskin of the Kingdom”; and “Twenty-Five Things You Never Heard in Church” all available on Amazon or go to www.JosephMattera.org.
There has been much written regarding what the bible teaches about prosperity, wealth and stewardship. In spite of the vast amount of material on this subject, many believers are still struggling in regards to having a biblical mindset regarding their resources.
In regards to the Kingdom, Scripture is replete with examples of how God’s sovereign economy transcends the natural worldly economy; for example, during the plague of darkness in Egypt there was always light in Goshen where the Jews lived (Exodus 10:21-23). God told Jeremiah that His people would continue to bear fruit even in a time of famine (See Jeremiah 17:8).
Also, we see in scripture how God supernaturally ordered circumstances to provide financial needs to those serving Him (Matthew 17:27). However, just because somebody is a Christian, doesn’t mean that they are automatically walking in a Kingdom economy; if we want to walk in God’s blessing, we are required to walk in the ways of His Kingdom economy.
The following are fourteen contrasts between the Kingdom and a worldly view of finances:
1- In the Kingdom, we release and receive/in the world, we hoard and accumulate
If we understand the nature of God, we realize how generous He is! This knowledge of God comes when we study the Scriptures, which re-orientates our thinking so that we have a Hebraic worldview when reading the bible. That being said, it is God’s nature to bless people back when they give to Him. (This can come in many ways not just in terms of finances.) This is why the Apostle Paul said that when the Philippian church gave to His apostolic work, he described it as “giving and receiving” not just giving (Phil4: 15); also, we see how God blessed the poverty-stricken widow who fed Elijah (1 Kings 17). Jesus reiterated God’s generosity when He said that if we give it shall be given back to us (Luke 6:38). Proverbs teaches us that whoever waters will be watered in return, and the person who scatters will increase all the more (Proverbs 11:24-26). Conversely, the worldly mindset has no objective other than self fulfillment, which results in people hoarding and accumulating wealth for themselves; Jesus called such people fools (Luke 12:13-21). Instead of hoarding for oneself, Jesus taught us to seek our treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19,20).
2-In the Kingdom, we hear from God regarding finances/ in the world we do what we want with our finances
In 1 Kings 17, the poor widow recognized the voice of God through Elijah the prophet when he told her to give him her last meal. This did not make sense in the natural; however, because she obeyed the Lord she never again ran out of food for her family. In the worldly mindset, we do not attempt to hear from God regarding our finances but operate totally in a natural mindset that benefits our interests alone.
3- In the Kingdom, we honor God with the first of our increase/ in the world we honor ourselves first with our money
In Scripture, we see how God equates honoring Him through giving Him the first fruits or the first ten percent of our financial increase (Proverbs 3:9,10). In the worldly mindset, the priority we have is to put our own needs first in everything we do (Phil3: 18,19).
4- In the Kingdom, we trust God to order our financial circumstances / in the world we position ourselves to order our circumstances
In Luke 6:38, Jesus said that when we give … “men will give to us” which means that God will order the circumstances of our life involving the people we meet to ensure that He blesses us back through them. With the worldly mindset, it’s all about depending upon our ability to position ourselves with others for financial gain.
5- In the Kingdom, we walk in divine favor / in the world, we carry favor
Since the Lord owns a cattle on a thousand hills and the whole earth is His (Psalms 50 and 24) then, tapping into His favor releases all the resources we would ever need in this world; with a worldly mindset, it’s all about winning friends and influencing people to satisfy our own financial agenda.
6-In the Kingdom, we utilize our wealth /in the world, we accumulate our wealth
Jesus made it clear that God expects us to utilize our finances in His parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-29). God expects everything He has given us to be invested properly so that He can multiply it for the advancement of His Kingdom. With a worldly mindset, even when our finances are invested to multiply it is primarily to accumulate more finances for our own interests.
7- In the Kingdom, we operate in faith /in the world, we react out of fear
God allows financial mountains to challenges us so that we can learn to move them by faith (Mark 11:23). Christ followers are called to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor.5: 7). Those with a worldly mindset usually react to challenging circumstances in fear which causes them to respond in ways that usually do not honor God. Scripture says that there is no fear in love, so the person who operates in fear cannot at the same time walk in faith (1 John 4:18).
8- In the Kingdom, God multiplies what we have/ in the world, we leverage what we have
Jesus demonstrated that God requires we surrender to Him the little we have first before He can bless it and multiply it (Matthew 14:21). In the worldly mindset, we are taught to depend on our ability to leverage our finances, manipulate people and control circumstances, so that we can experience an increase.
9- In the Kingdom, we are problem solvers/ in the world, we are complainers
The word of God teaches us that sound wisdom, discretion, prudence, understanding and power resides with God, which can result in financial increase and influence (Proverbs 8:12-18). Wisdom is developed when we use our knowledge to solve problems. The greater the problem we solve, the more influence and wealth we can access. Being a problem solver is a key to walking in God’s Kingdom economy; those with a worldly mindset are taught to worry, fear and complain about their challenges which keeps them greatly limited the rest of their life.
10- In the Kingdom our source is God /in the world, our source is man
Paul said in Philippians 4:19 that our God provides all of our needs according to His riches in glory; Jeremiah 17 teaches us that the person whose trust is in the Lord will prosper even during a famine; contra wise, those with a worldly mindset only have faith when their natural means of financial support is flowing; if ever that natural flow is stopped, then they get discouraged and fall into fear. This illustrates that their faith was never initially in God.
11-In the Kingdom, we are content / in the world, we are ever striving for more
In the Kingdom, we learn that contentment has nothing to do with how much money or possessions we have; we have learned to be content when we have much or when we suffer with little (Phil.4: 11,12). In the world, the more we have the more we crave; we are never satisfied with possessions because only God can fill the longing of our soul (Luke 12:15).
12-In the Kingdom, we are stewards of His wealth/ in the world, we represent our own interests
In the Kingdom, we function as “God’s treasurers” and His stewards (Phil 3:7,8; 1 Cor. 4:1,2). Nothing we have is our own, God has only lent us our talents, gifts, abilities and possessions so that we can promote His will on the earth. Those with a worldly mindset believe that they represent only themselves and that they have a right to use their finances anyway they desire.
13-In the Kingdom, wealth is primarily to confirm His covenant /in the world, wealth is focused on satisfying one’s own objectives
God told Moses that He has given us power to create wealth so that we can confirm His covenant on the earth (Deut.8: 18). Although God blesses some people with nice cars, homes and other amenities, the primary reason for wealth is to spread His word on the earth. Of course, those with a worldly mindset believe that they earned the right to use their wealth any way they desire (within legal means).
14-In the Kingdom, wealth is always cooperating / in the world, wealth is individualistic
Finally, those with a Kingdom mindset know that wealth and finances is all about seeking first His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33). Since the Kingdom of God is primarily represented on the earth through His church, we are called to support the ministry of Christ in His Body. This should cause Christ followers to function and flow financially in a way that prioritizes the financial support of their local congregation; God’s plan A, B and C is the local church! All influence in the marketplace should emanate out of the matrix of a (New Testament) church. Those with a worldly mindset think only in terms of financing their individual vocation and calling; however, it is impossible for an individual believer to function apart from His Body as we see in the epistles of Paul (read 1 Corinthians 12).
While I applaud the fact that there is a great emphasis in many circles on reaching the next generation, we often forget that God also has a plan to use older seasoned leaders as well.
For example, when Abraham was ninety-nine years old God still called him to walk before Him blamelessly and to believe for a son from his own loins (Gen ch17). Moses was eighty years old when God called Him to deliver the Jews from Egypt (Exodus 3; Acts 7). Caleb was eighty when he desired to take his own mountain (Joshua 14:12). Paul the apostle still craved the word of God for study and admonished the church even when he was in his sixties and about to die for his faith (2 Tim 3,4). The apostle John was probably ninety plus years old when he received the Revelation of Jesus Christ on the Isle of Patmos (Rev ch1).
Retirement from the service of God is not biblical. It is important to understand that some of the greatest things we will ever do for God will take place in our latter years. This comes against the mindset of the AMERICAN culture in which people work forty years so they can relax the rest of their life and live off their retirement monies. I have often found that men do not live long after their retirement if they have no sense of purpose. Even in the church, many believers desire to take it easy and fall away from their purpose once they hit their senior years.
The following are 16 contrasts between retirement and a re-firing mindset
1-Retirement mindset looks forward to rest / re-firing mindset looks forward to completing their conquest.
2-Retirement looks forward to a life of ease / re-firing mindset looks forward to a life of empowering others.
3-Retirement looks back on the past for fulfillment / re-firing mindset looks to the future to bring greater glory to God.
4- A Retirement mindset wants to slow down / a re-firing mindset wants to accelerate their assignment.
5- A retirement mindset gives up on releasing their potential / a re-firing mindset focuses on fulfilling their potential.
6- A retirement mindset says that their best years of productivity has passed / a re-firing mindset says the best is yet to come.
7- A retirement mindset lets the youth face their giants alone / a re- firing mindset slays the giants awaiting younger leaders.
8- A retirement mentality lives in natural strength / a re-firing mindset believes God for supernatural ability.
9- A retirement mindset leaves many spiritual orphans in their path / a re-firing mindset nurtures many spiritual sons in their calling.
10- A retirement mindset is self-focused / a re-firing mindset is self-giving.
11- A retirement mindset accomplishes little for the Kingdom / a re-firing mindset accomplishes much in the Kingdom.
12- A retirement mindset builds their latter years on wood, hay and stubble / a re-firing mindset builds their latter years on gold, silver and precious metals (1 Cor.3:10-15).
13- A retirement mindset barely makes it through the fires (1 Cor.3:15) / a re-firing mindset abides with Him in the fire (Isaiah 33:14-15.)
14-A retirement mindset seeks to please themselves until their end / a re-firing mindset seeks to please God until their end.
15- a retirement mindset is not something we should seek to attain even if we retire from one job we should re-fire for the next assignment God has for us.
16- Finally, A retirement mindset goes from glory to mediocre / a re-firing mindset goes from Glory to Glory and Strength to Strength.
At the very end of our earthly sojourn, may we be able to say like the apostle Paul “the time has come for my departure. “7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day -and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim.4:6-8).
Different approaches to biblical preaching
Prophetic, Rhema word preaching
This kind of preaching is when a pastor waits upon the Lord during the week and (hopefully) God downloads a prophetic exhortation on the pastor to deliver to the church. This is a very common style of preaching especially in the Pentecostal and Charismatic church world. The advantage of this approach to preaching is that there is an excitement in the air every week since folks do not know what is coming next. This approach also enables the pastor to deliver a word spoken in season that can specifically minister to the needs of certain people in the congregation.
The disadvantage of this kind of preaching style is that it is very difficult for the average person to mature since there is no systematic approach to Scripture they can wrap their brain around. It can also lead to a pastor imposing their own views and subjective insights upon the text of scripture which greatly hinders the congregation from learning how to interpret the word for them.
This is when the pastor engages in topical preaching (similar to a systematic theological approach) that lends itself to teaching a series of messages rather than a different topic every Sunday. This is perhaps the most popular approach today in the church world. Involved in this approach are popular homiletic structures that employ:
A one point topical message
A one-point message is very advantageous since it forces the preacher to build his whole message on one primary train of thought. Everything in the message (personal examples, scripture reading, insights, and story telling) all points to and builds upon one primary topic. This method is also the most fluent and conversational because it flows more naturally and organic as if somebody is having a detailed conversation with another person. The focus is always practical and often the message can end with practical application bullet points.
A three to four point topical message
A three to four-point message is less natural than a “one point message”; however, it can still be effective if there is enough focus. Generally, in this style, you read the text to start off the message, have an intro with personal stories or metaphors that frame the message to make it easier to understand. Then the passage is unpacked with three to four points with a practical conclusion at the end for application.
In this article, I am referring to an exegetical approach to scripture when I say expository. By exegetical, I am referring to unpacking the scriptures as God originally gave it instead of connecting passages together to prove a topical point. E.G. Instead of preaching topically on holiness (a topical message that connects verses from both the Old and New Testament to prove the point), the expositor would deal with a whole passage of scripture that deals with holiness; and or, they would not pick one subject but teach weekly through a whole book of the bible, unpacking it verse by verse. The advantage to this approach is that it is much easier for the church to follow along; they even know what to study for the next week’s sermon. It can also teach the congregation how to understand the author’s original intent when that particular book of the bible was written.
Another advantage is that a local congregation can utilize more people to preach the word since they can all refer to the same commentaries and biblical resources that buttress the text at hand, which greatly aids them in teaching and preaching. Also, these approaches almost force the expositor to stay on point and not go off into subjective tangents since their goal is biblical exegesis and not subjective isogesis.
Furthermore, it also forces the pastor and preaching team to deal with passages of Scripture they are not familiar with and or would have never taught the church, it gives the church a more balanced awareness of the council of God revealed in the bible. This approach can also be more convicting to the church because the people will know that the pastor did not plan the next week’s topic or passage that it is merely next in the chronological order; hence, if the subject matter is the giving of finances to God then the congregation knows that this was not the idea of the pastor because money came up naturally in the text.
Topical preachers intentionally deal with the subject matters they choose; so, the people can possibly think that any given subject matter taught was due to the intentionality of the preacher not necessarily the will of God for them at that time.
A disadvantage to this approach is that at times, the church may need to hear a prophetic word or teaching on a certain topic that will not be touched in that week’s text. Although I have rarely seen this happen with this approach, (it amazes me how relevant every week’s passages are!) this can easily be resolved if the church knows that the lead pastor has the liberty to put the expository approach on hold for guest speakers, and or for short seasons of the church life to give room for the prophetic word of the Lord to come forth. Mixing it up like this can keep the excitement in the church going and at the same time give the church the opportunity to mature and be equipped in the word from many different angles and styles
The importance of proper biblical interpretation
Last but not least, perhaps the most important aspect of causing believers to mature is to equip them to learn the science of biblical interpretation or hermeneutics. This has to do with several different aspects that I will only briefly cite because of a lack of time.
10 Keys to biblical interpretation
1-We must understand the author’s original intent
Instead of imposing our cultural and subjective views on the text of scripture when preaching, our first order of business is to explain the author’s original intent when he wrote the passage or book; after establishing this, then we can give our own insights and personal and moral applications without doing violence to the text.
2-We must understand the historical /cultural context
Although the scriptures are applicable to every generation and are transcultural, we must first understand the historical, cultural context to arrive at a proper understanding. This is because idioms or sayings may have been employed thousands of years ago, that can alter the meaning of the text in contemporary language. We also have to understand that the biblical writer at times employed literary genre that made use of hyperbole, poetry, allegory, typology and symbolism.
3-We must understand the biblical context
Before we can understand one particular word and or verse, we need to understand the author’s original intent for the chapter, then the context of the whole book as well as understand that book in the context of the Old or New Testament depending on in which Testament it is written.
4-We must understand the antecedent use of a theme
This has to do with learning how to build a foundation of doctrine to understand a text or a theme of scripture by understanding it’s first mention in scripture, then building from there to the present text you are preaching from to arrive at a proper understanding.
5-We must understand covenant language and biblical metaphors
In every profession there is a particular nomenclature that it’s practitioners and adherents understand and use. (E.G. in baseball there is “balls and strikes”….Scripture is no different, the bible uses covenant language to communicate certain truths that can only be understood by studying Old Testament symbols, typology and metaphors, especially in apocryphal literature.
6-We must take the word literally unless otherwise indicated
In the second and third century of the church, from the city of Alexandria, arose great church fathers (like Origen) who taught that with every passage of scripture there is the literal meaning but to know God’s will we have to uncover the spiritual or allegorical meaning.This view can be dangerous since allegorical meaning can be very subjective unless the scripture states that the passage is allegorical (I.E. Galatians 4:24).
7-Scripture always should interpret scripture
Perhaps the most important hermeneutical lesson we can learn is that the Word of God has to interpret itself.
Hence, it is very dangerous to isolate a verse and build a doctrine from it. If there are not at least two to three other passages that arrive at the same conclusion, you cannot build a doctrine upon one mere verse or passage.
8-Understand the grammatical structure of the passage
Scripture was written primarily in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. It is important to have original language grammatical tools that give you the possible meanings of a word along with it’s tense and sentence structure.
Most of the time this is not absolutely necessary for preaching. Understanding the context is probably more important to understand a verse most of the time (since the original languages can also have various shades of meanings –giving license to the preacher to prove various points); however, whenever possible, use some tool that aids the interpreter to exegete the word with the original languages. One of the things that helps me in biblical interpretation is understanding that the original writings did not have grammatical notations that we have today in English such as capital letters, commas, periods and the like. Thus, I usually ignore chapters, verses and grammatical notations, and read the text like one flowing letter, which gives me a better understanding of the context of a passage.
9-The Christo-centric principle
According to Luke 24:44,45, the whole Old Testament points to Jesus Christ. With that in mind, having a Christo-centric view of Scripture helps us understand it’s ultimate end regarding its primary and typological meaning.
10- the numerical principle
The bible does give symbolic meaning to certain numbers that can aid in biblical interpretation;
E.G. Often it’s use of “one thousand” is not literal but symbolic of a lengthy period of time (Revelation 20:1-7). The number seven is very special and seems to have divine connotations (i.e. The seven-fold spirit of God in Revelation chapters 1-5; The seven miracles of Elijah, the seven miracles of Jesus in the book of John).
The number twelve seems to connote government as we see when Jesus chose twelve apostles, the New Jerusalem has in heaven twelve gates with twelve angels, with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and the city is measure to be twelve thousand stadia. Three is the number of the triune God and five is the number of His ministry gifts as shown in Ephesians 4:11. We can go on and on but you get the idea.
In conclusion, there is much more that can be said about biblical interpretation (I spent much time studying this subject) and about everything written in this article.
Let us all endeavor to study to show ourselves approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim.2: 15).
Through the years, I have come to believe that there is nothing more important than the Scriptures to mature the Body of Christ.
In Acts 13:1-2, we see that the leadership of the Antioch church regularly ministered to the Lord together with the practice of fasting. This church was so new that they did not even have apostles in their leadership, only prophets and teachers.
Ever since the dawn of the era of the church, God has exploded onto the scene of humanity with awesome displays of strategy, power and missionary expansion. There is no greater example of this in the Scriptures than in the way God expanded His Kingdom through the planting of churches in key cities. As we examine the New Testament (especially the Acts of the Apostles) we see that God is not pleased with static, status quo Christianity that lives only to maintain itself and its members.
I have been striving since the early 1980s to help the church follow in “the way of Jesus and the apostles”. That being said, one of the earmarks of the first century apostolic church is how the church edified itself in love (Ephesians 4:16) and was led by a team of leaders whose primary purpose was to equip the church to perform the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11,12). Read this second half of the article which delineates traits 5 through 11 of the personality driven church.
5-The leader draws attention to himself
Paul warned of leaders who would arise drawing disciples after themselves (Acts 20:30). This takes place even today even in spite of the fact the Apostle Paul said that in all things Christ should have the supremacy (Colossians 1:19). There are some leaders who brag so much about the great things they are doing that the people’s attention and emotions are drawn more to them than to the Lord or to the church. When a leader does this, ultimately, danger and a huge fall is not far away since God humbles the proud and exalts the humble.
6-There is no room for other leaders to develop
In personality driven churches, people with a high upside regarding their leadership capacity usually get frustrated because there is no opportunity for them to use their gifts. Especially, those in the congregation called to the five-fold ministry as found in Ephesians 4:11. In these churches, there is a culture of “serving the pastor” (to the exclusion of serving the church) and enhancing “his ministry”, more than being equipped for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). In healthy churches, the lead pastor is constantly strategizing to develop and release people to their divine assignment in the church and marketplace.
7-The lead pastor has no accountability
Usually, a personality driven church is led by a narcissistic and or insecure leader that shies away from personal accountability. Even if they have denominational or structural accountability, it is not functional. These leaders do not want to be told what to do in their personal life or church. The very fact that they created the environment for a personality driven church lends to the fact that they have lifted themselves up in regards to self-importance, which makes it difficult for them to listen to anyone else.
8-The government of the church is autocratic and highly centralized
In personality driven churches, there is strict control over what is said, what is done, what is marketed as well as the appearance of all things. Of course, even healthy churches are careful about their communications, public persona and marketing but personality driven churches have “over the top” control in all these areas. Consequently, there is a “top down” leadership style that is autocratic, highly centralized and very structured. When dealing with the leaders and department heads of their ministries, the senior leader of this kind of church just gives direction, presents his vision, and expects everyone just to follow orders without being a vital part of the strategic process.
9- There is no room for critical thinking and creativity
Personality driven churches discourage open dialogue about the true condition of their congregation, as well as critical thinking and creativity. By critical thinking I am not referring to being critical about the church; even healthy churches should discourage the spirit of criticism in their congregation), I am referring to the ability to learn how to think logically, to analyze, and to problem solve. Thus, personality driven churches do not encourage people to be self-aware, and think for themselves. All major thinking, strategy and creativity has to emanate from the senior leader or it is not viewed as legitimate.
10-The lead pastor leads a narcissistic lifestyle
In personality driven churches, the lead pastor attempts to live a lavish lifestyle because they have a sense of entitlement that everyone owes them something because of their “greatness.” Instead of being motivated to serve and feed the flock, the primary motivation of the personality driven leader is the desire to be served. (Whether consciously or unconsciously.)This is of course in direct contradiction to the clear teachings of scripture as found in Jeremiah chapter 23; Ezekiel Ch. 34 and John chapter 10. The godly shepherd will lay down his life for the flock; the personality driven pastor will sacrifice the church for their own benefit and pleasure.
11- The church doesn’t outlive the lead pastor
In personality driven churches, the likely hood that the church survives after the lead pastor is gone is very slim. This is because the whole ministry was built upon the gifts and abilities of the lead pastor. It may have been a mega church; however, it did not have a foundation of strong secondary leaders with a pool of potential successors that can take the reins of the lead pastor role. (Which is why some mega churches do not last beyond the first generation of their founding.) Even in the case of denominational churches where they choose a replacement for the lead pastor, usually said successor does not have the charisma to keep the church moving forward, resulting in a great demise in attendance and vision. In healthy churches, there is a multi-generational vision, which perpetuates the life of the congregation, way beyond the years of the tenure of the lead pastor.
In conclusion, while there is no such thing as a perfect church on this side of heaven, my prayer is that this article will inspire churches to become healthier and pursue the way of Christ and His apostles in regards to local church culture.
To read part I of this article, click this link …