Following Individuals Can Be Dangerous

by Dr. Ken Matto

(Col 3:24 KJV) Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

This verse tells us that the great inheritance that the believer is going to receive is the inheritance of eternal life.
(Luke 18:30 KJV) Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. Many Christians look beyond eternal life and are expecting to receive some type of rewards for their service to the Lord. I donít know what they expect but what can surpass everlasting life in peaceful bliss? I donít want to focus in on the subject of rewards but I want to focus in on the last part of that verse which states, ďfor ye serve the Lord Christ.Ē

It seems as we head close to the end of the world there seems to be a compartmentalizing of Christianity. That comes in the form of the following of people. Now I am not speaking of just following those preachers who are famous on radio or TV, but following a person even if it only constitutes a small group. I would probably venture to say that since the majority of churches have failed in maintaining a steady diet of true Gospel, many Christians feel that they have found solace in small groups of Christians rather than the larger group in the local church. These same believers will faithfully attend church and even give and support the various ministries but they still feel that there seems to be no comfort or stability offered.

This is an absolute shame because if Christians find their comfort in a group and find that they are getting satisfied in their teachings by a single leader, that will lead to another faction being formed or even a cult. Christians who attach themselves to groups headed by a single person are setting themselves up for great danger. The reason is that the more a person is given authority over other people, the more authority they begin to assume. When that assumed power begins to manifest itself, then the Christian who has relegated their spiritual learning to that person will begin to build a dependence upon them. That dependence can lead to a blinding of the believer that may separate them from the authority of Christ by placing a person between them and the Lord. The Christian now obeys the leader as their primary source of leadership.

This situation is becoming more prevalent as we approach the last day. I am not speaking of official cults which form but just Christians who have attached themselves to certain teachers or preachers with almost a fanatical affection for them. Sometimes it gets to the point that no matter what that teacher says, it is almost as if God is speaking. The verse at the top tells us that we are to serve the Lord Christ but if we allow another to come between us and the Lord, then we are serving two masters and that is unacceptable because one will be cast aside.

The Holy Spirit was given to the believer to interpret and give understanding in the Bible.
(1 John 2:27 KJV) But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. In the past few weeks I have seen a terrible injustice being done in that Christians who follow men are not interpreting the Bible with the Holy Spirit as their guide, they are adapting without question whatever their favorite teacher says. In essence, they have become the Holy Spirit for many Christians. Whatever the teacher says, is what the Christian will believe. It is blind belief and that is dangerous to any Christian.

If we are looking to a person as our spiritual leader instead of looking to Christ, then we are actually descending into idolatry since we wait with bated breath to see what they will say next. There were actually true believers who followed Jim Jones to Guyana. How could that be? Simply because those Christians did not check themselves to see where their spiritual life was heading and where their spiritual affections lay. If they would have realized that Jones was trying to usurp the place of Christ in their life, then they could have simply walked out before it was too late but they found solace under his teaching which led to their eventual physical death.

Now that is an extreme case but is totally real. What ended in tragedy had started out like anything else, small. Whenever we allow someone to gain authority over our lives, we are setting ourselves up for a fall. It is okay to listen to someone, to see what they have to say but the time to judge the teachings is at the outset. If you continue to listen without discernment, then your ability to make objective judgments diminishes, simply because you are taking in more of the erroneous teaching which begins to block your capacity for rejection. There is no teacher of the Gospel who is so high up that they cannot be challenged when they are in error. If you are not in a position to challenge them or if they refuse to hear, then you must walk away, even if they are your friend. (
Prov 14:7 KJV) Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.

False teachers must be rejected because no Christian can ever serve the Lord Christ while walking in false teachings. This is because the false teacher has become the mediator. A position that no human being should ever be in when it comes to Christianity. The only recognized authority in the Bible over the Christian is the Bishop, Elders, and Deacons over the body of believers. Pastors and Teachers were given as spiritual gifts in the body but are not given as spiritual rulers in the body of Christ. Pastors and Teachers should be under the authority of the Elders, so the pastoral dictatorship will not materialize in any church. Pastoral dictatorships are why many churches have gone down hill. When the Pastor assumes overall authority over a local congregation, he then rules the Elders who are supposed to be ruling him. There is no king in any congregation and the Elders have been placed in each congregation to make sure that this does not happen. Remember there is a difference between a ruling office and a spiritual gift.

(Eph 4:11-12 KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; {12} For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

If you notice they are to mature the saints, work in the ministry, and edify. The Elders are the ones who have rule. Since the church follows the world in its dealings and not the Scriptures, it makes the Pastor the CEO of the congregation and with it comes the Leviathan of pride and arrogance.

In conclusion, it behooves us as Christians to make sure that we are not, in any way, shape, or form allowing someone else to have a place of authority in our life, whether it be Pastor or small group leader or self-appointed Bible teacher. We can listen to the teachings but if they are in error, we must reject them. We may listen to the teacher but if he becomes overbearing and tries to establish a power base in our life, then we must reject him also. Serving the Lord Christ is not a shared allegiance, it is a narrow, focused, single allegiance.  (8/13/04)