by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 56 October 14, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:Motives for ministry can be absolutely horrible.
Introduction:One of the most unfortunate facts of human existence is that man's perversity is so great that he thinks nothing of subverting even the most sacred realities for his own satisfaction.
Paul wrote, in Romans 1, that mankind was of the kind of character that it would take the glory of God and subvert it into the glory of created things. James knew that this was a universal problem of such magnitude that only a select few would escape the temptation to succumb to this subversion. Because he knew this, he also knew that one of the primary areas where this subversion would inevitably surface would be the realm of the human leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ. He KNEW that there would be many, many professing believers who would seek ministry positions for reasons other than loyalty to Jesus Christ and to His Father. He KNEW that ministry positions are positions of visible status--and that there would be many who would attempt to satisfy their lust for status by seeking to be somebody in the Church.
This evening we are going to look into the sick reality of the very real possibility that many of the so-called teachers of the visible Church are motivated by corrupt motives.
I. The Only Safeguard for the Church.
A. Due diligence in regard to legitimate qualifications for the doctrine-establishers of the Church.
1. The Church should NEVER accept anyone to this position that has no track-record of faithfulness to obedience to the Word of God.
a. This is not the same thing as a track record of "success".
b. This is not the same thing as a track record of "popular appeal".
2. The Church should ALWAYS ask the hard questions of how the person responded when his "success" was about to go down the tube.
B. Clear-eyed recognition that legitimate qualifications are rather easily discernible.
II. The Problems That the Church Faces.
A. There is such a thing as "bitter jealousy".
1. The issue here is a perversion of "zeal".
a. The term is used in both contexts of commendation and condemnation.
1) Of itself, it is morally neutral.
2) Its essence is an uncompromising pursuit of an objective at great cost.
b. It is commendable when the objective is the pleasure of God through obedience to His Word (expressed will).
c. It is condemnable when the objective is personal satisfaction of the lust for position and its accompanying power and recognition.
2. The driving characteristic of bitterness is nothing more or less than the outworking of a sense that "I deserve better than this".
B. There is such a thing as "strife".
1. The problem here is that though it takes two to tango, there is always at least one (if not two) whose understanding and motivation is flawed.
2. A corollary problem is that it is human nature to blame the one who stands for the right... we have an agressive antagonism to what is right.
3. Strife is not the responsibility of the one whose zeal is legitimate, whose understanding is legitimate, and whose methods are correct.
III. The Demand of God.
A. Includes a rigorous self-examination of the answer to the "why are you wanting to be in the position of authority in the Church?" question.
B. Includes a point-blank demand that two things be absolutely abandoned...
1. The desire to exalt oneself.
2. The willingness to lie about one's motives in antagonism to the Truth.