Paul’s Authority and Relationship With the Church

This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead. Galatians 1:1 NLT 

Christ Points the Way

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I remember sitting in church, no more than four years old, watching the preacher preach, and knowing (not hoping, not wanting, not thinking, but knowing!) that is what I would be doing one day. I am no Paul, and I did not have a Damascus road experience, but I realized I was called by God and not man. Even though God has called me to ministry, He has still created opportunities for me to work within the church, even though I have my own self supportive ministry. The conference does not pay my salary, but I work along with them. I have no desire to run away from them, and they express their appreciation for my team work. I say this, because there are those who feel that, since they were called by God Himself, they do not need to work with the church.

Did Paul feel that being called directly by God allowed him to work independently of the church? No!    

In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do. Galatians 2:9-10 NLT 

We are all called to spread the gospel. Some of us do it as employees of the church, and some of us do it as lay members, or in supportive independent ministries, but either way we are to work together as a team. This not only means that lay members cooperate with conferences. Conferences must also cooperate with lay members. 

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”  “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. Mark 9:38-40 NLT 

Paul and the church cooperated together to spread the gospel. Jesus says don’t stop independent ministries from spreading the gospel. It is not the job of the church to destroy independent ministries, and it is not the job of independent ministries to destroy the church. It is the job of both to preach the gospel, and even though God may call some to work within church employment and others to a supporting independent ministry, we may all work together as Paul did with the church in his day. 

God may call and financially support us independently of the church organization, but He does not call us to minister independently of the church organization. The church needs us, and we need the church. Paul was not called by human authority, but he team worked with those in human authority. I encourage us all – lay members and conference officials to follow the biblical example Paul has shown us. 



Paul’s Authority and Relationship With the Church — 12 Comments

  1. Thank you William for "just happening" to mention independent supporting and supportive ministries. Your comments are valued. Three small alpha characters divide the members. We are so often judged on whether the ministry God has called us to is supportING or supportIVE of 'the church'. When God calls us to mission, in our neighbourhood or in the island fields, we must be able to follow through on Paul's advice - if God sends, then go! He wants all hands to the plow - He needs us all, whether humble mortals in bush chapels or mighty leaders in concrete edifices. Oh how God weeps to see leadership putting down supportive ministries. Those who personally feed the poor, give God-pods to the villagers, hug the hurting little girls, bring medical aid to damaged women, teach the blind boys a trade, visit in prisons, take home the children from the rubbish tips...and all the while being told that as they are not a supportING ministry, then they are something nothing - unmentionable. Heaven knows, and heaven hurts.

    • I am in situation as supportive ministry work. like David of old trying to bless king Soul but Soul (main stream church) trying hard to put down David. They called us offshoots but conscientiously we serve God. In the other hand, I will not blame the mainstream church because there are many real offshoots who make confusion, bewilderment,distraction,embarrassment,turbulence,turmoil,agitation rather than promoting and showing this characteristics: peace,calmness, happiness, clarity, composure, method, order, organization, orientation, sense, and system.

      in the other hand as well, by history and Bible history, some of our leaders from mainstream church of their unsanctified character, worldly policy and kingly behavior allows the Adversary, Satan of old, to spoil the offshoots attitude to burst out, thinking that they are working the work of God.

      That is why, I pray God Almighty, our dear Father in Heaven for Elder Ted Wilson and his associate leaders to have humble, meek and loving spirit as undersheperds of Christ the true Shepherd.

  2. I have seen those that started with intentions of the church organization is not good enough, only to be led by the Holy Spirit as time goes by, to work hand in hand with the Church organization as you are. Praise the Lord.

  3. Yes, Brother Earnhardt, Jesus also is an example of One who received His "credentials" from the Highest Authority and not through the then-recognized church.

  4. God bless you, human authority in the church has been anointed by God, hence we can never work independently. Unity creates harmony. Paul the Apostle is a living testimony to prove this fact right.

  5. Which one is better, to be given authority (approval or a nod)by the heavens (Jesus himself), or the human authority in the church...?

    I would go for the nod from above...

    In as much as human authority in the church was to pure and holy, Satan has silently crept in...

    May the good LORD help us...

  6. William for a four year to have those kind of serious thoughts is very unusual for my four or five year old mind. The memories of attending church were in a little country church with a pot belly stove in the middle of the room for heat during the winter, and fans that were hand held with pictures on them to help cool during the summer heat. I guess it depends on where and how one is raised. The story of Paul and the persecution that he administered was obviously the result of his upbringing so to speak. Our decisions even the wrong ones have a definite affect on many lives for positive outcomes or negative results.

  7. Pauls method of instruction depicts the more often views held by church members. Old members more often underlook newcomers as less qualified for church ministry. Just like most jews underlooked paul a Pharisee being less qualified a preacher for God's church ministry. This is wrong and should change.

  8. it's extremely important that we remember that we all are the body of Christ,each member operates differently but in harmony with one another.The goal is to walk together in the light of the cross so that all can see and glorify the Father.Let love be the reason.

  9. Thank you for this commentary. There are times we as members are reluctant to support, invite, or join a ministry if they are not connected to a conference or church. God has those working in ministry in many different ways (niches) to help spread the gospel. Wonderful reminder that Christ first taught this and his disciples continued it. Time is short. May God bless all those working to take this gospel to all the world, wherever that corner of the world may be and through whomever He chooses as a vessel.

  10. Hi, Dr Maurice Ashton can you see that Paul authority is so strong, powerful and direct: he call a spade a spade; no flattering in his word simply he did not fear men and he did not depend on any one but his hand feedeth him. But this is not so with our pastor today, we need to tremble at the word of God to say it at it is even though men will be offended of the word than offending God

    • Not sure why this comment was addressed to me, but let me respond. The excuse that Paul called a "spade a spade" is sometimes used to make comments and criticism in an unkindly and ungracious manner. As a participant in several forum discussions, I am somewhat embarrassed when I see people claiming to be Christians, writing inflammatory comments and giving "straight testimony". There is really no excuse for not being gracious towards one another, even in disagreement.

      As for "pastors making people tremble"; there may be times when we need that sort of message, but we must also remember that the Gospel is a message of encouragement. In my life as an educator, I have never achieved much by telling students that they will fail if they don't learn their work. The few times I have had to make students tremble with fear have been well earned by the students and carefully thought about by me. it is not a technique that I would ever choose to use routinely.

      I like the way the Psalmist puts it: "O taste and see that the Lord is good," Ps 34:8. That is a lot better than trembling.


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