Church Without Clergy (general)
In Revelation 1:4-6, notice the tense that John uses to explain his own position.. which is described by history and tradition as the 'bishop' over the seven churches of Asia Minor:
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
This was his position at that current moment, according to his own testimony. Revelation 5:10 reaffirms this stating that as kings and priests they will reign "upon the earth". Revelation 20:6 shows that this is also described as the Millennial reign, which is a reign that Christ retires upon His return (1 Corinthians 15:24)... not a reign that we are awaiting. Why was a human being given these titles.. "king" and "priest"? Maybe this is a reference to the baptismal priesthood, I guess that I can't say.. though it is clear that the ministerial priesthood is what is described in certain instances such as when Paul instructed Titus to "ordain elders in every town" (Titus 1:5). Or in Acts 14:23 when Paul and Barnabas ordained elders in "every church". How? With the laying on of hands (Acts 13:3)... such as the way in which Stephen was "ordained" in Acts 6:1-6. If delegated authority is indeed "man-made", then we have no reason to believe the apostles who obviously adhered to these so called "man-made" traditions. Did the twelve have authority to ordain?
You wrote that, "There is only one position of authority in the Church (His body), and it is held exclusively by Jesus Christ." I'm not disagreeing with you. There is also only one position of authority over the England (for ex), and ultimately it is not the queen or the prime minister.. but parliament. Why then does a monarchy demand other rulers? Could the monarchy stand if their goals didn't align? Yet the Church has functioned for nearly 2,000 years. Just as the authority of the queen comes from parliament.. the authority of these kings and priests is not their own. Authority was prophesied to be handed to the holy ones of God (Daniel 7:27). So when I say that I'm not disagreeing with you, all things need to be considered. God is the only one with the position of authority to offer authority to the men whom He chooses in order to carry out His Will and rule with Christ in His Kingdom.
Do you have any insight into the use of "bishop" in the following verse... what it may mean? 1 Peter 2:25 "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." Keep in mind that this is the same Greek word used of people whom God appointed over His flock in Acts 20:28. Maybe you have an explanation that I've never considered?
You said that, "Jesus taught His disciples to be leaders by serving others, not by delegating authority to them!" You also said that neither you, or any man, could give the Spirit... how is it that Peter and John participated in the new believers receiving the Spirit in Acts 8:18? Not that Peter and John held power in themselves, but it's quite apparent that the power of God worked through them in the laying on of hands. God does not need an instrument to demonstrate His authority... but He often chooses one. The instrument acts in obedience, not power... as a "servant" of both God and man.
In Luke 10, He gave the 72 authority to tread on scorpions and serpents.. to not be harmed by the wicked one. In doing so, they were serving the nations that they were sent to convert... and serving God, who sent them. I'm not denying that they were to be servants, but you are ignoring way too much delegated authority in order for me to agree with you on that claim. How did you not come across this when searching out 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 to toss at me? You were just two verses away from the portion on "the Church and its Leaders". In there, Paul claimed that he was the one to lay the foundation (3:10)... where did he receive this authority? Was the Church following God or man when they listened to Paul? In 4:1, he said that he is to be regarded as God's servant through whom they are to learn the mysteries of God. Why wouldn't they just learn the mysteries from the Holy Spirit? Why should we listen to any of the epistles? Or the gospels, for that matter. Rumor has it, only two of them were truly written by the apostles. How could anyone after the apostles deliver to us the inspired word of God? You did say that Jesus Christ exclusively holds the only position of authority.. that no man has authority?
I asked The Lord how much He loved me
He stretched out His arms and said, "this much"
Then He died for me