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Church Ordination
'ORDINATION'  DOES  NOT  CONFER  AUTHORITY
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  Ordination to the pastoral oversight of Christ's Church is an issue greatly influenced by the history of Christianity.
In its essence, ordination is an issue of leadership authority in the organisational structure of the Christian Church.
 
 
Accordingly. it is held that both the unity and continuity of the Christian Church lies in its clergy – those ordained, or set apart to the special duties of preaching, teaching, and ministering the 'sacraments'.
 
Even
though the methodology and the ascribed aspects of ordained authority differ among these movements, ordination in both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, as in Protestantism, is believed to have a biblical basis.
 
THE LORD
Concerning this authority, Jesus is our example.
 
 
The Scribes and Pharisees with the Elders "said to Him,
'Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority'."
Luke 20:2.
THE WORD
Christ had already given answer enough for those who sincerely needed to know, and so He astutely declined.
He had already quoted His source – the Bible: "it is written"!
Luke 19:46.
Yet,
to quote from a Lutheran perspective on ordination:
"If we loose the proper understanding of ordination as it flows from the mandate and institution of the Lord
then we loose the certainty of the one who is chosen by the Lord to be His instrument for the giving out of His gifts."
(Rev. R. Nebhut, Missouri Synod, St John Lutheran Church, Hamilton Texas; emphasis mine).
What nonsense!
THE SPIRIT
This Protestant view carries the same corruption of truth found in the Roman Catholic history of a priestly caste with unique powers and authority. This is not only wholly contradictory to the Sacred Scriptures of Christianity, it also dishonours the Holy Spirit Himself from whom all gifts of ministry directly flow.
 
To think that the Spirit should ever 'need' a conduit to reach the recipient is a gross misunderstanding of the way of God's Spirit and amounts to animism. Incidents in Scripture used to support this no more imply this than does the mud on the eyes of the blind man whom Jesus healed, or that there was some 'content' in Peter's shadow when some were healed whom it touched as he walked past.
John 7:39;
Acts 5:15.
When
the Bible is allowed to be its own interpreter, every incident, statement, or teaching in Holy Scripture ever used to support the idea and practice of ordination, is found to be misinterpreted, abused and violated within its context. Most often, in all sincerity, the twisting of Holy Scripture is caused by lifting Scripture out of its own context and fitting it into the context of a 'church ideology' of ordination.
 
  Ordination, as the elevation of an individual to a class of special Christian ministry, has absolutely no biblical basis whatsoever!  
Bible
incidents, teachings, and Scripture portions which are most commonly used to support the ordination-myth, are as follows:
 
 
The 'laying on hands' –
 
 
The practice of laying-on-hands (which some branches of Christianity understand as a rite in which spiritual authority is imparted) arose originally from God's commands to Israel concerning the method to be followed for a sacrifice to represent the worshipper/worshippers bringing that offering before the Lord:
"He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him."
"And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the Lord, and the bull shall be killed..."..
And again –
"...the ram of ordination [for the priesthood], and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram".
"When you bring the Levites before the Lord, the people of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites [to represent them]"
Leviticus 1:4;

Leviticus 4:15;

Leviticus 8:22;

Numbers 8:10.
In
other words, this act simply expressed personal identification with that which represented the worshipper/s before God. There is absolutely no idea here of the 'transmission' of any qualities positive or negative through their hands. It is purely a symbolic identification, hence its later use in compassionate prayer for the sick and needy.
 
 
It is against this Old Testament background to our New Testament that we must understand earliest church practices, if we are to avoid twisting the meaning of New Testament statements. A number of New Testament's statements are usually quoted in support of the myth of clergy ordination.
 
 
Paul makes reference to a foundational event in the ministry of Timothy which are often quoted in support of a so-called sacrament of ordination, such as:
"Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you";
and "I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands".
1 Timothy 4:14;

2 Timothy 1:6.
Now,
what was it? Was it some magical 'transmission' through a prophecy or was it through Paul's holy hands that this gift of 'evangelist' came into Timothy to elevate him to the Clergy Class?
 
The
Bible describes Timothy's spiritual gift of "evangelist" as having been received by him through a prophecy, when the elders of his local church were laying their hands upon him (1 Timothy 4:14). This is often quoted as 'proof' of ordination through laying on hands, but this is a very clumsy reading of Scripture. It simply says that as the elders were laying their hands upon Timothy (identification with him in prayer for him) the Holy Spirit prophesied (through someone present) in which the Spirit imparted this particular gift to Timothy as his equipment for ministry.
 
So
then why does Paul say Timothy's gift was in him "through the laying on of my hands"?
2 Timothy 1:6.
 
It was Paul's personal relationship with Timothy by which that young man was led to faith, commitment, and became part of the ministry of God's Spirit which he had experienced in Paul. This was expressed in that climactic moment of the personal prophecy to him, when Paul and the elders set Timothy apart for the work – identifying with his calling to the work of the ministry.
 
 
What about Paul, when he was still called Saul, having hands laid on him with Barnabas for their ministry in Cyprus?
Acts 13:1.
 
He was already in full-time ministry with the spiritual gift of "teacher" at that time. The Spirit of God simply said in prophecy to the group of five leaders of the Antioch church that they should should set-apart Barnabas and Saul for the work/ministry to which the Spirit had already called them. So the other three leaders prayed for these two, laying hands upon them in supportive identification with their mission to Cyprus.
Note the 'τε' Greek enclitic particle marking the division in the passage between the three prophets and two teachers.
 
Regarding traditional church ordination ceremonies – Charles Spurgeon, the most celebrated Baptist pastor of the nineteenth century – is popularly believed to have said that ordination consisted of “laying idle hands on empty heads.”
 
• 
The resurrected Christ's breathing upon His disciples –
 
 
Cleopas and others were present on this occasion (Luke 24:18,36) and so it was certainly not to a select group of apostles that the 'forgiveness commission' was given. Christ's acted metaphor (in parallel to God's breathing life into Adam; Genesis 2:7) of 'breathing on them' (John 20:22-23) proclaims the consequence of their new life through His resurrection that day (Ephesus 2:5) as being to spread His word of forgiveness as they had received.
 
• 
The evangelism commands of Christ –
 
 
The evangelistic commission of Christ to His Church, described at the end of Matthew's Gospel as being on a mountain in Galilee to His eleven disciples, is almost certainly the same event which the apostle Paul later describes as being before five hundred brothers at one time. It was only in Galilee that such a large number could have gathered safely and therefore we have no basis for assuming this mandate was to apostles only –
"Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep."
1 Corinthians 15:6.
• 
'Office of the Keys' –
 
 
The promise to Peter of the 'keys' of the kingdom has been used extensively as though elevating Peter to some unique authority, whether that be Papal, or to a so-called Holy Ministry of the Protestants. Both are in total error.
Matthew 16:18-19.
 
In spite of Peter's errors and bad example to the Antioch church (Galations 2:11), this unique promise to him was fulfilled in his own life when he opened the door of the Christian Gospel to Israel on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and to the Gentiles in Caesarea (Acts 10). This cannot be repeated through any succession.
 
 
Peter with the rest of the twelve foundation-apostles (which includes Matthias, Acts 1:26) have their personal names (not titles or offices) in the foundation of the New Jerusalem because they were eye-witnesses of the whole ministry of Jesus, and there are no others. They are irreplaceable!
 
 
No one can step into that function. It belongs only to those who were witnesses of Christ, apart from the Holy Spirit (John 15:27), because they had been with Him from His baptism by John until His ascension.
 
  : : –– : :  
THE NATURE OF
THE CHURCH
Essentially, the wide-spread confusion regarding ordination to pastoral oversight is caused directly by a lack of understanding of the nature of the Christian Church itself.
 
 
Luther's Melancthon asserted in his Augsburg Confession (1530) that ordained clergy carry authority in Christ's Church today regardless of their personal character (hence his condemnation of Donatism), just as Christ recognized the authority of the Scribes and Pharisees as sitting in 'Moses Seat' of authority (Matthew 23:2-3) regardless of their corrupt behaviour. This may reflect the respect in Christian conduct taught in Scripture for existing social structures of all spheres of life, but it is certainly not the character of authority within Christ's Church, His precious Bride.
 
 
Melancthon's error here was his ignorance of the character of the New Covenant in Christ from which the Christian Church takes its character in contrast to Israel's Old Covenant. Israel served God from outside the Veil in ceremonies and statutes; the Church of Jesus serves God from within the Veil, torn open to us in Christ's flesh (Hebrews 10:20), in which we serve in the fullness of the Holy Spirit Himself.
 
 
Clergy carry no authority which is not produced by the character of Christ within them through the ministry of the Holy Spirit!
 
The
Holy Spirit, given to the Church on the Day of Pentecost, dwells in people, born-again people, and in nothing else. These people are the Church, the holy fellowship of the Redeemed – expressed, demonstrated, exemplified, represented in the local congregation.
 
 
For this reason the Book of Revelation refers to the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit Himself, as –
"the seven Spirits who are before [God's] Throne"
because the address of the Revelation is to the "seven congregations which are in [the province of] Asia".
Revelation 1:4.
 
Therefore, any ordination outside of the local congregation contradicts the essential character of the Christian Church, for the Church does not consist in the structure of an organization, no matter how religious/spiritual that organization may be, but in the practicing congregation of God's people. In other words, the local congregation is not a 'branch' of the Christian Church. It is a local instance of the one and only Christian Church, and to this alone belongs the recognition and setting apart or dedication of leadership ministry.
 
 
This does not mean we should not respect ministerial recognition accorded to persons by the collective decision of representatives of the local churches, but it does mean that no 'structure' has within itself the authority to confer authority!
 
 
Size, structure, and scope may impress in this world as giving greater significance to something, but this is not the thinking of God!
 
  . . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .  

Remember: TRULY CHRISTIAN MINISTRY IN ALL FORMS IS AN OUT-GROWTH OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF A LOCAL CONGREGATION OF GOD'S PEOPLE (1 Corinthians 12:12).
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