Written: November 25, 2012 | Updated on September 17th, 2022 | Jun P. Espina | 6 min read
John R. Rice wrote about one prominent preacher who insisted that a pastor should specialize in either teaching or evangelism. Or that some should be experts in church planting, Bible conferences, or radio ministry. In the medical or legal professions, specialization is a must. One needs to be a surgeon or a cardiologist, not just an ordinary medical practitioner. But is specialization necessary among preachers whom we consider faithful in serving God? No.
Considered Faithful, But Spiritually Powerless
The idea of specializing church leaders’ functions came from the liberals who mixed scriptures with secular thoughts. They erred because of their heavy dependence on human wisdom. Some fundamentalists, even those considered faithful, are also giving this false doctrine a bite in their struggle against utter spiritual powerlessness.
Considered Faithful Based on the Holy Spirit’s Anointing
Church is God’s business. Yes, shame on those who claim authority over the affairs of the Lord’s Church by their scholastic records and theological expertise. Let’s listen to God if we want the truth: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS MADE YOU OVERSEERS, TO SHEPHERD THE CHURCH OF GOD which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
It is clear as midday that church leaders should be Spirit-appointed if they were to survive happily in the pulpit. When God’s Spirit appoints His leader, man’s specialization idea turns vacuous.
Considered Faithful Vessels for the Master’s Use
God’s leaders are vessels for the Master’s use, “sanctified… prepared for EVERY good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21) God appointed and trained them. He employs different approaches to molding them. For Moses and David, for instance, God used the wilderness and sheep. He gave Spurgeon and Moody the ability to self-study and for John Rice, a Baptist seminary.
It is not important to God if you are an “ignorant” Galilean like Peter or as learned as Paul. He can use a boy to kill a giant! A Bible-school education is a rare opportunity. Have it if you can grab it. It is imperative. But that’s not all. Faith matters to God more than a doctor’s degree in divinity. “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.” (1 Tim. 1:12)
The Qualifications of those Considered Faithful Vessels for the Master’s Use
What about Ephesians 4:11, which talks about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers? Isn’t it one strong verse that supports the doctrine of specialization? No, it isn’t. This verse talks about God’s gifts to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ”(v. 12). Remember this: Ephesians 4:11 is all about gifts for the edification of the church, not about the qualifications of the God-appointed church leader.
Qualifications and gifts are two different things.
God’s leadership qualifications, as found in Chapter 3 of First Timothy, are centered on good morals, family leadership, maturity, and the ability to teach. Of the five gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11, only the gift of teaching is required to be a church leader. We find the only reason for this mystery in Acts 20:28, the very verse we have just discussed. What is important in church leadership is not the gift, but the control of the Holy Spirit. Hence the phrase “he will be a vessel… useful to the Master.” (2 Tim. 2:21)
It is an Effort Not to Use Your Gifts
Here’s an important thought from W. Glyn Evans1 concerning church leadership:
Service is pouring out of our souls. Jesus did not come parading His gifts, showing off His talents, putting on a self-centered spectacular. Certainly He had no education to trumpet. But His was the model service of a soul turned inside out, the sharing of what He was inwardly. Service is offering to God all we are, to be used… as God directs…. Not until I am ready to do that am I capable of rendering effective service…. ‘But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith.’ (Phil. 2:17).
We Need Church Leaders Who are Spirit-Appointed and Christ-Centered
The Lord’s church needs Spirit-appointed, Spirit-filled, and “poured-out” leaders who are faithful and more interested in Christ than in “Greek.”
But only those worthy church members can have them from heaven: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3-4)
When Church Leaders Preach Love for God Instead of Christ’s Gospel
Most preachers who are less Spirit-filled have focused their energies on everything that does not glorify our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is every Christian’s source of divine truth. Something must be wrong when a church leader turns to John Piper or John MacArthur for a so-called superior theology. The man of God used by His Spirit is never lacking in divine truth from his Bible.
Have you heard this quote before: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him”? It is John Piper’s basic theology.
Have you heard about “God is My Sweetheart” theology? No, you haven’t, for I just coined it for a lack of locution to describe it. It is your LOVE FOR GOD that can give you a source of joy. John Piper invented the “God is my Sweetheart” heresy. He is a renown preacher who owned the website, “Desiring God.” That is his theology, “Desiring God,” or simply put, “God is my sweetheart.”
Reviewers of Piper’s teachings are stunned by his so-called “Christian Hedonism.” The YouTube video embedded here tells us more about Piper’s heresies. He frequently quoted Psalm 37:4, which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Piper’s FIVE HERESIES on Christian Hedonism. 2
- 1a) False: ‘…we should pursue happiness, and pursue it with all our might.’
- 1b) True: We should pursue God, in a relationship and to glorify God, with all our might. The pursuit of happiness in God as above pursuing God Himself is essentially idolatrous.
- 2a) False: ‘The desire to be happy is a proper motive for every good deed.’
- 2b) True: The desire to serve Christ as Lord, to please God as our Abba Father, and to respect the authority of scripture, are all sufficient moral motives for a good deed, and denying Christ’s basic and prime Lordship as a valid motive is a sign of a false doctrine.
- 3a) False: ‘You cannot please God if you do not come to him as rewarder.’
- 3b) True: God does reward faith in His promises, but it is not sufficient to see God as a mere rewarder because our higher relation to God is in seeing Him as our divine and loving adopting Father who has freely given us salvation and freely sustains us by grace. It is a grace-based relationship, not a Pavlovian-based one.
- 4a) False: ‘The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.’
- 4b) True: The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. The kingdom of God is not defined mainly in terms of seeking enjoyment and self-gratification and God self-identifies mainly as a loving and self-giving person.
- 5a) False: ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.’ (This view objectifies God prioritizing Him as a source of self-gratification and opposes the true and altruistic nature of ‘agape’ love that defines God in scripture).
- 5b) True: God is most glorified in us when we most fully reflect [obey] the whole will of God. The kingdom of God is not mainly defined in terms of self-gratification and Piper’s view that “all our loves are erotic” is false because it is opposed to God’s prime nature as defined by self-giving love. Piper’s view is also opposed to Jesus’ teaching that happiness is a paradox and is a by-product of living in harmony with God’s perfect and holy nature.’
One speaker said, “I wanted the pianist to face the pulpit, not the congregants, but all my members objected. What I did was to crawl the piano clockwise, an inch every Sunday, until I achieved my goal of letting the pianist face the pulpit.” What’s the lesson of the story? Well, following the doctrines of false preachers like John Piper can make faithful preachers invent their own heresy by a little twisting of verse at a time.
 W. Glyn Evans, Daily with the King ( Chicago: Moody Press, 1979), p July 8
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