“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”-I Peter 4:11 (KJV)
It never fails to surprise me when someone calls me, “pastor.” So many thoughts run through my mind. “Wait, are you talking to me?” “Have they never been around people from churches of Christ?” “Surely they know better.” “Do I have the time to correct them gently?” More and more that kind of unscriptural language is sneaking into New Testament churches. So what? Is it even worth the fight anymore? There is no doubt! Let’s take a look at a few reasons.
It Can Not Be Wrong: The things of God are serious matters. We should handle them with respect and care. We all have opinions about certain passages. Denominational groups have developed volumes of teaching in an attempt to explain the Scriptures. The problem is, in explaining the word of God, men tend to drift from God and toward their own human thoughts. There is a temptation to invent concepts and use language that is foreign to the Bible. Before long, we end up arguing about the ideas of men instead of the words of God. If we use Scripture to answer religious questions, we can not be wrong. It is always right to use the language of the Bible. It puts the focus on the will of our Father in heaven and away from the ego of human beings. Only the former can be said to be the true path to heaven.
In Makes Ideas Clear: As important as it is to use biblical language, it is just as vital we use those words in ways defined by the Bible. This is the problem with the popular use of the term pastor. Our religious friends usually mean preacher or minister. Rarely do they use the word to describe what the Bible calls a pastor. The words bishop, elder, overseer, and pastor all refer to an office in the local church. There is never just one pastor. Elders must be married, have children, and serve alongside other men who reflect the qualities of I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. There is no such thing as a single overseer in the Bible. There should not be in today’s church. A man who is a preacher, minister, or evangelist should be known by language the Bible uses to describe a God-given role in the church. Using the wrong words confuses Christians and leads to less knowledge of God’s will not more.
We Can Unite On Bible Words: A non-believer can say, “There are so many churches teaching so many different things! How can anyone know who is right?” And with that, they reject Jesus and fall prey to Satan. But their point is valid! Division in the church is a great evil. Jesus prayed this for Christians, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”-John 17:21. In our efforts to unite, we must settle on a common vocabulary. When God wanted to scatter the people of Babel, he confused their language. How can we remain united when we use the words of man instead of speaking as the oracles of God? Brothers and sisters, let us come to the Bible and find our way to the Father in the language of the Son revealed by the Spirit.
Sometimes old advice is best. In the 1800’s men pledged to unite the church of Christ and restore New Testament faith, worship, and practice to the family of God. They summed up their method this way, “Call Bible things by Bible names. Do Bible things in Bible ways.” If we follow that counsel: We cannot be wrong. We will be clear. We will be one.
Let the saints listen to the preacher. Let the pastors shepherd the flock of Christ. Let God have the glory!