The 5-fold ministry today should be like the Holy Spirit (of course!) bcos, as the Holy Spirit Himself is never revealed, He only reveals the Father and the Son ; and so too, those who preach and teach the Truth and who feed the church will always help people to know Jesus, and to make the Scriptures their authority.
The net effect, then, is that if a servant of Jesus has truly been an instrument of the Holy Spirit, then when he moves on, the people are more solid in the Scriptures – - he “leaves the Bible” with them, and not his own books or articles etc. The servant of Jesus’ writings and teachings decrease and the place of the Scriptures increase. This is how it should be.
A true apostle, prophet, teacher, elder should be able to encourage people to pass on his books after they’ve read them, lest they miss the whole point of the exercise, which is, that each one would know Jesus intimately, with no human mediator, and that each one would only have the Scripture as their authority in all matters. (Of course, there’s nothing wrong with keeping anyone’s books)
The man who has planted a church, who, after a number of years, has all the saints reading his books, and quoting him all the time, and, basically, putting his teaching and example as something very “special” – - if that’s the case, then that man has FAILED miserably, and that work will be burned up at the judgment of fire, but he will be saved as thru fire, if he truly has Christ in him.
The true 5-fold are just like the Holy Spirit, bcos all that they are and do is born of the Spirit – - they are like the Holy Spirit in that they are like a “vanishing act” – - The only trace you can find that they have been here is Jesus : a greater love and obedience to Him in the people of God, and a greater leaning on the truth of Scripture as the spiritual authority.
They don’t leave their own name, their own books, their own individual “doctrine”, their own “ism” – - they leave Jesus’ name, bcos they have taught the people the truth about the utter vanity of having any other teacher or mediator than Jesus, thru the Holy Spirit. They have taught that all other mediators and authorities are idols.
Question: Is it possible for a group of Christians in a certain area to meet together regularly in Jesus’ name, committed to one another (like in the NT) doing His will, and NOT be united around the teachings of one man or woman, or the teachings of a movement, but rather, only united in Christ, and only taking God’s Word as the authority on all matters? Yes, it is. But most leaders don’t want this, bcos it entails taking up the cross daily, and being crucified to this world : it’s principles, and how it operates.
And, if this were to happen, wouldn’t it be a very simple expression of church, and wouldn’t Jesus be glorified as He should? For sure.
Today’s elders (leaders) should only point to Scripture as the authority, IF it’s exclusively Scripture truth they teach and live.
Where they have written books or articles, they should be ABLE to say,
After reading it throw it away, or give it away, because it only points to the Word. Its value is defined by how well it has helped you understand Scripture, therefore, once you’ve ‘seen it’ in Scripture, then the writings have served their purpose, and I, as a teacher, have fulfilled my purpose.
Of course, whether they say this, or not, is up to the Holy Spirit in them, yet it’s true that they should be able to say this if they love the Truth.
Then, the church planter and leader should be able to leave that church he has planted, or been an influence in, and move on, and none of his materials ever need to surface again, IF he has pointed them to the Word of God, and they have all come to grasp the Word and what it means, as they grow up into the Head, Jesus, in all things, being taught by the Holy Spirit. And, elders (shepherds) will come and go, yet they also should have this understanding of their life’s service.
A friend of mine, Mark Finger, writes:
The real father, spiritual or otherwise, inevitably (if he has done his job well) comes to a place in time where his children no longer need him, are capable of surviving without any direct leadership on his part at all, and are raising up (natural or spiritual) children of their own.
There may be some sadness in letting go (which is normative), but it is swallowed up in the joy of seeing them grow up and mature. Of course, God sends some back for counsel at points in their lives: and some go on; we never see them again.
Re: Groups of believers in general : Crossing the line into spiritual idolatry occurs whenever anyone allows the consistent appearance of impropriety, when this becomes normative: no Christ-centered believer would allow such a situation to exist or continue; so why does it exist?
Ignorance is a poor excuse for a believer who has access to “all things” which he has need to know (1 John 2:27).
Real brothers are quick to call each other to accountability in the faith.
So, if there is no accountability within any group in this way: it immediately reveals that the bonds are not (Holy) spiritual.
Heb 5:12 For indeed, although you ought to be teachers by this time, again you have need for someone to teach you what are the elements of the beginning of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
You ought to be ‘teachers’ by this time, meaning, the ‘teachers’ should have spiritually reproduced more ‘teachers’ by now. (This scripture says that ALL of them ought to be teachers, meaning that all saints should be able to teach others the Way of Truth. Yes!)
These are safeguards, and many leaders ignore them, creating clones of themselves, who parrot their teaching and jargon, leading to spiritual idolatry – when Christians see things thru another man’s understanding, like, his teaching becomes the ‘template’ or ‘program’, and within these boundaries (laws) their mind and conscience, and therefore actions, are captive.
And, ultimately, it is to their shame, when they give an account to Jesus for their life and their work is tested.
Luther said correctly, My conscience is captive to the Word of God alone.
It’s not captive to any man, group, denomination or movement.