Friday, February 5, 2016

JACK HYLES PLACED PEOPLE BEFORE MONEY

Jack Hyles Chose People Over Money




There is not a day that does not pass that I do not receive a phone call from a young pastor asking for help and wanting to know why he can't get his church to win souls and grow. They always bring up the giants of the faith of the past and ask, "What was the difference?"I am going to give you in this article ONE reason or ONE attribute of these giants of the past generation had that IS MISSING today.

May I please as an old man, whose 44 years of ministry is behind him, help you young leaders? I have done my part and will continue to win souls and help churches. I will finish out my life doing my best to help the next generation to learn from the previous generation. That generation just happened to be the most successful preachers for the cause of Christ of any generation. I have books to write, articles to write, churches to help, and conferences to preach. My desire to teach Biblical principles I learned from the giants of the past. Here is ONE of those Bible principles those men of God possessed.



Many years ago Dr. Hyles began to support and promote a ministry he felt was of great benefit. He raised untold sums of money to help this ministry. In addition, he committed a large sum from his church to support this ministry on a monthly basis. 

There came a time when Dr. Hyles felt he could no longer fully align himself with this man. He did not think it was a bad ministry, but he was concerned about some important matters regarding the leadership. I know. I was there in the meetings when he tried to persuade him to make adjustments that would allow them to continue in their current relationship. 
Dr. Hyles was not angry with him. He was not hateful towards him. He did not threaten him in anyway. He merely discussed with him the concerns that he had. However, I saw the man become indignant and defiant towards Dr. Hyles. 

The conclusion of the meeting was that there should be a certain parting of the ways. Dr. Hyles no longer had him speak for him, nor did he speak with him. The one thing that he did not do was harm the man or his ministry. He did not believe the ministry was a bad thing. He merely had to make the choice that he felt was right. He still deeply loved the man. 
What was interesting to me was the fact that he never told his church nor did he announce it in Pastor school or publicly. He continued to financially support that ministry exactly as he had in the past. Dr. Hyles had given his word and his word he would keep regardless. He did not want to hurt what help that man could be to others. 

That surprised me, so I asked Dr. Hyles his reasons. His answer was fascinating to me. He said, “Dr. Gray, this was my mistake not his. The things that separated us were already there before, but I did not see them. It would be wrong of me to punish him for my mistake. Why should he suffer? That is the reason why I cannot take away the money that I committed to him. I love him. I would rather lose money than break my promise to him.” Amazing!
On another occasion Dr. Hyles promoted a man within his own ministry to an administrative position. With that position came a higher salary, a car and  housing allowance, and a few other financial benefits. The man failed miserably in the position. He was not suited to be an administrator. Dr. Hyles eventually removed him from that position and used him to teach in the college. 

The man had not done anything morally wrong. He simply was not up to the task. Dr. Hyles continue to provide for the man the same as before. He did not take anything away from him. 

Again, his reasoning was that it was his mistake not the man’s. He did not merely do this for six months, a year or even five years. He continued to pay the man an administrator’s salary until Dr. Hyles died. The man nor his family were ever forced to suffer for Dr. Hyles “mistake.”.



This was the way Dr. Hyles lived his life. He lived by principle. He made decisions based upon taking the high road. He took upon himself the responsibility. He did not want to see these men nor their families suffer. He loved them. It did not matter that they had let him down. He was not going to let them down. It did not matter that may have failed him. Dr. Hyles was going to keep his word.

What mattered was that he was not going to fail them. He was to going to break his word no matter how it hurt. He once said, “I would rather sacrifice all my money than to sacrifice a single friendship.” He also said, “I never fight over money with anyone because money doesn’t mean that much to me. I will keep my word.”
There is an important lesson we all need to learn. This is ONE of the reasons God blessed these giants of the faith of the previous generation. Dr. Hyles did not think of, "I could use this money." He thought in terms of "I gave my word." 

Sometimes we must make sacrifices out of character. We must do what is not in our best interest because we made a commitment to someone else that is in their best interest. We may lose something in doing what's right, but we gain so much more because we kept our word and cared about the welfare of another. Don't think for a second that God is not watching. It is how we handle the "least," which is mammon, that God looks at FIRST.
These were not isolated incidents. Dr. Hyles always made decisions that were in the favor of others not himself. I know he could have used those monies for other things. However, he felt that it was more important to do what was right than to do what was beneficial to himself. 
You may argue, “But, that’s the Lord's money.” Exactly my point. The Lord expects us to do what's right and to trust him to make up the difference. That my friend is what we call, “living by faith.” 

We do what's right not based upon the outcome, but based upon the rightness of the decision. We have a God who rewards that kind of behavior. We must trust him to take care of us even when we make a decision that we feel is not in our best interest. However, when you think about it, what is in our best interest is doing right and trusting God to take care of us. A vow or ones’ word is the issue with God not money.



Let me conclude with one last story. When Dr. Hyles came to First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, he followed Dr. Owen Miller an American Baptist pastor. Dr. Miller was a good man, but he was much different than Dr. Hyles. Dr. Hyles transformed the church and many who were loyal to Dr. Miller left the church and caused Dr. Hyles trouble. 

They split the church and started a new church called Meadow Lane Baptist Church. What people do not know is that Dr. Miller was involved in helping those people found that new church. A split had occurred. Yet, Dr. Hyles had given his word to Dr. Miller to financially care for the former pastor. Dr. Hyles would keep his word regardless of the split. 

There are two parts to the story that need to be told 
Knowing all this, Dr. Hyles lead the First Baptist Church in supporting Dr. Miller for the remainder of his ministry and life. After Dr. Miller died they continued to send the same check to Mrs. Miller until the day she died. He never talked about nor did he announce how sacrificial this was for the church to do, for they had given their word. Dr. Hyles and First Baptist Church did it cheerfully. 



But there's more. Dr. Miller's dad lived in a house about five houses down from the church. Dr. Hyles bought that house for “Dad” Miller to live in along with Dr. Miller's sister who cared for “Dad” Miller. They lived in that house for the rest of Dad Miller's life. After he died the aunt was allowed to stay at that house until her death. By the time Dr. Miller’s father and sister had died the only house that still was standing on that block was the house they lived in. 

Even though Owen Miller did not particularly care for the style of ministry of Jack Hyles and even worked against him to a certain degree in helping start another church, Dr. Hyles financially sacrificed to treat those people with love. He knew he was building on another man of God’s labor. However, there’s something even greater about that story. This part we only recently discovered.

The Second Part of the Story
In the past year Mrs. Beverly Hyles received a letter from the pastor of what was once the Meadow Lane Baptist Church. It was a letter that informed her of something she did not know. 
While Dr. Hyles was still living the church, once known as the Meadow Lane Baptist Church, was going to move and needed to sell their building in order to have the money to move to a new location. 

Dr. Hyles did not know anything about this, but one day he contacted the pastor of that church. He asked him if he could come to the church and apologize to the people who were still alive from the split for anything he might have said or done to hurt them those 40 plus years ago. 

He grieved over the losses they experienced after that young Texan had come in and changed so many things. Dr. Hyles was not apologizing for what he did. However, he wanted to apologize because he was a part of what hurt them. 
He then asked the pastor, “What does your church need.” 
He said, “Well we need $30,000 to start the new building.”

Dr. Hyles said, “I will give you that $30,000.” 
A couple of weeks later the pastor called Dr. Hyles and said, “Dr. Hyles, I have bad news. The people have voted that they do not want to accept your apology, but they voted to accept the $30,000.”
Dr. Hyles said, “That's fine, I understand. Pastor, where do I send the check for $30,000.”
The pastor said, “Oh no, I don't expect for you to give that money since the people have rejected your apology.”
Dr. Hyles said, “I didn't offer the money in order to apologize. I offered the money because I want to do something to express my love to those people for the sacrifices they made when Dr. Miller was their pastor.”
The pastor was emotionally moved by this, but he could not change the minds of the people. Dr. Hyles raised the money himself and sent the check. No one knew. 
Are you sitting down? You need to get ready for what I'm about to tell you. 
Last year Mrs. Hyles received a letter from that pastor and told her the story. The letter Said, “Mrs. Hyles, I have felt for a long time that the blessings of God could not be upon us because we rejected the apology of your husband. I know he is in Heaven now. But I went before my church and I said that God could not bless us if we cannot forgive him. This letter is to inform you that we as a church except the apology that your husband offered us.”
At the bottom of that letter in shaky handwriting was the signatures of every living member who had left First Baptist Church some 55 years ago. Well, glory! God is good! 
You know what money meant to Dr. Hyles? Nothing! What meant everything to him was loving people. Money was a tool to love people, not a tool to build a ministry. God always provided what the church needed. He leIft the church debt-free. He left the church with plenty of surplus funds. He never made money the issue. The issue was people because that was what he loved most and the keeping of his word.

Young leader, you have just read ONE of the reasons God blessed Jack Hyles, Lee Roberson, Lester Roloff, Curtis Hutson, John R. Rice, and many others. 

If you want to do what the giants of the past did you will have to be what the giants of the past were.



Thursday, February 4, 2016

SOWING DISCORD AMONG THE BRETHREN?

Sowing Discord Among The Brethren Explained!


Throughout my years of ministry I have noticed that the phrase “sowing discord among the brethren” is often used in an unscriptural and inappropriate manner. It is assigned as a tool or weapon rather than a principle. 

It is seldom used towards one's self, but almost always in defense of oneself against another. It has the potential to be the most self serving accusation used against other Christians.
At various times in my 44 years of ministry I have been accused of “sowing discord among the brethren” when it could not have been further from the truth. By the way, be careful of those who make such careless accusations because Satan is the accuser of the brethren. 

The Bible does not tell us to label those who sow discord. In fact I will prove in this article that we are completely misinterpreting this Scripture. Sadly, I have had this weapon used against me on several occasions in my 44 years.
I was accused of “sowing discord among the brethren” when I made my decision to follow Jack Hyles and John Rice while a member of the American Baptist denomination.
I was accused of “sowing discord among the brethren” when I gave a dissenting opinion while a member of a Christian board of directors.
I was even accused of sowing discord among the brethren when I defended my friend Dr. Jack Hyles of accusations made against him.


When I attended a summit regarding the King James Bible, I was warned by the leaders of that institution that any discourse against their positions of criticizing King James Bible would bring banishment to those who argued because I would be “sowing discord among the brethren." They accused those of us who were there on behalf of the King James Bible of such. 

I was there because I wanted to hear the position of this institution before making a decision as to whether to completely separate myself. I was also there because I hoped to defend the right position if given an opportunity. By the way, standing for your doctrinal beliefs is not sowing discord. 
While I am certain that there have been times when I took the right stand in the wrong way, I can assure you that I have never set out to, “sow discord among the brethren.” When I have mishandled a situation I have always gone back and corrected myself and made it right.


Make no mistake about it, there have been times I have plowed the ground against error. In so doing I caused divisions among brethren because of their false teachings. My friend, that is not sowing discord among the brethren. That is fighting for a position. 

We sound like the liberals who call us “rabble-rousers” every time we call them out for their liberalism. They accuse us of being “ hate mongers" because we defend the rights of unborn children. It is not sowing discord to take a position that causes division. Sometimes division is a good thing not a bad one. I am sick of this cry for “unity” among some Christians, but that is another subject for another article. It's the Rodney King of "WHY CAN'T WE JUST ALL GET ALONG?" Error and truth cannot co-exist. Only the cowardly stand by and let injustice happen. It has cost me to stand for truth, but I do not regret it because I will face my Saviour one day and I would rather have lost everything just to hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant..."



The real tragedy of this accusation is the carelessness with which it is taken out of its Biblical context. Look carefully in Proverbs 6 where we twice see it mentioned. People that use this as an argument isolate it from its context to make their point. 

Take a minute and read it in context and see if you detect anything interesting. By the way, you will not find it anywhere else in the Bible, so all we can know about it must be interpreted within this passage.
“He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.”
It continues...
“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
Did you see it? Look carefully and you will CLEARLY see that the Bible lists this particular action as a part of a whole. It is not an isolated sin, but rather one that is in companionship with the others. To accuse someone of sowing discord among the brethren is to accuse them of all the above sins. 

Be careful. There is a serious danger in taking one characteristic listed as a whole and assigning it to someone. In so doing you are automatically assigning that person as being guilty of all. 

The Bible goes on and talks about the same man and says that God hates these things. In the midst of those things once again is the characteristic of “sowing discord among the brethren.” Look at it in its context preacher. Stop pulling that line out for your own good. When you use that accusation you are accusing that person of all the other wicked characteristics mentioned as well. 
But wait, who is being described here? Go back and you will see that it is the sluggard who Solomon is describing with these qualities. Now I am many things but a sluggard is not one of them. A sluggard is defined as one who is, “a habitually lazy person.” Well, I’ll be. 
Oh by the way the next verse says, “My son keep thy father's commandment and forsake not the law of thy mother.” Just thought I would throw that in.


It seems to me that many pastors use “sowing discord among the brethren” as a defense mechanism. They use it to control their people. Or they use it because their arguments cannot stand on their own. They decide that if they can sell the idea of someone “sowing discord among the brethren” they can win their fight and accomplish their agenda. 

Their motives are not allowed to be brought into question. Their justice, or should I say injustice, is not allowed to be questioned. The moment you do anything that takes a stand against their position they cry, “He is sowing discord among the brethren; he's sowing discord among the brethren.” 

We might want to be careful not  to judge that one who has been accused of such unless there is clear evidence of all the other attributes Solomon mentions. 
Now allow me make a few observations that I have made over the years regarding this matter of sowing discord among the brethren.
Sometimes the one who is crying the loudest about others “sowing discord among the brethren” may actually be the one who is doing the sowing. There are those who feel they are given a pass on their slanderous talk, but when someone else speaks in defense of another or themselves suddenly they are the ones “sowing discord.” Interesting isn't it? In fact they are not even allowed to defend against the accusation of “sowing discord among the brethren” without a threat of church “discipline.”
Sometimes a pastor is the one who sows the most discord in a church. Sluggard pastors who play members against members are sowing discord among their members with little or no regard to the fact they are tarnishing another’s reputation. It is not just members who sow discord in churches. Pastors are just as guilty of doing so and often the worst perpetrators because of power found in their position.
A pastor has no right to take this phrase out of context in order to bully his people to accomplish his purpose. Make no mistake about it, if a pastor uses this passage to bully his people he is misusing Scripture to accomplish his or the deacons’ agenda. Christians should NEVER be forced to live in this kind of fear. Pastor, if you are accusing a member of “sowing discord among the brethren” you MUST be prepared to identify them as a sluggard and prove they also are guilty of the other infractions.
Defending oneself against false charges is not sowing discord. This is especially true when someone is being unjustly accused and not being allowed to defend themselves. Injustice is a greater sin than those actions being misidentified as “sowing discord among the brethren.”
“Sowing discord among the brethren” is an easy way to try to shut people up. Many a leader uses this argument as a defense mechanism. They do not stop and consider that what the other person is saying may be true and in a proper setting. They merely want to defend themselves, so they use the “sowing discord among the brethren” card. This is the very reason independent Baptist churches are called cultish. The misuse and misinformation of Scripture is why God does not think it is wise to have a “novice” as a Spiritual leader. People’s reputations and lives may be destroyed in order to get ones way.
“Sowing discord among the brethren” is often used to shut up someone whose opinion you don’t want to hear. Why is it that pastors should have the last word without hearing out their members? Why is it they should have the last word against a church member when other church members do not know the other side and the complete truth? Once again they are using the “sowing discord among the brethren” on behalf of the pastor at the expense of the member. The pastor is there to serve the membership.  

Now let me share some things that Bob Gray, Sr. has tried to do over these 44 years of ministry.

When attending a conference where I knew many of the speakers disliked me, I sat on the front row, shook hands with every preacher as they went up to preach, assured them of my prayers, shook hands with them when they finished and thanked them for their message. Yet, some of these very men accused me of, “sowing discord among brethren” because they did not like certain positions I took. 
I have always praised my pastor and other leaders. Whenever I am under someone's authority I never speak a negative word about that person. We may have our disagreement and may voice that disagreement, but no one can step forward and say that Bob Gray, Sr. said a negative word about them. It is a lie.
When defending myself against injustice I continue to say positive things about the person who has mistreated me. I may defend myself, but I will not do so by attacking that person.
I am a positive person. I do not fight back. I have been attacked time and time again without defending myself, but there comes a time when you must defend yourself because someone is attacking your reputation. Paul said, "I magnify mine office." If this is going to hurt my ability to help the fallen and the unsaved then I must defend myself. But, that does not merit the accusation of “sowing discord among the brethren.”
Christians, be careful of misusing this Scripture for your own agenda. When you mishandle the Word of God you are playing with fire. I do not want to see good men hurt by their misuse of truth. May God help us to be faithful to justice and slow to accuse others of being sowers of discord. 

I hope this helps pastors and leaders to be extremely careful in your dealing with members' lives and reputations.   It just may result in someone or many someones burning in Hell forever if you do not!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

WHAT IS LOYALTY?


A Question of Loyalty


Loyalty is a subject that is often misunderstood. People love to assign labels to loyalty such as idol worship, hero worship, man worship, and others. It just shows how little they understand true loyalty. Recently I have had my loyalty questioned and it has caused me to give much thought to this subject. I have done what I often do and studied the Scriptures and the principles I learned from my mentor Dr. Jack Hyles.
There are three types of loyalty that I want to discuss in this article. I believe that each of these types of loyalty needs to be understood properly. They are positional loyalty, principled loyalty, and personal loyalty. Allow me to explain each one and then compare them to each other.
Principle loyalty. I am loyal to the Scriptures and to my principles derived from those Scriptures. I do what is right. If you ask me to violate my principles I cannot do so because I am loyal to the principles which I believe. For example I am loyal to the Constitution of United States because I believe in the principles of the Constitution. I am loyal to the principles of God's word. There are principles to which I have given my loyalty. This is a learned loyalty.
Positional loyalty. We are called upon to be loyal to a position. For example I am loyal to the position of President of United States of America. I am loyal to that position because I am a citizen of this country. Thus, I am positionally loyal. I may not like the man in the office, but I am loyal to the position and plan on staying in the USA.  I may not agree with the man in the office, but I am loyal to the office. Positional loyalty is a loyalty that is not earned. It is a loyalty we give because of our loyalty to the institution represented. If you are a member of a church you should be loyal to the position of pastor. He may not be your favorite pastor, but you should be loyal to him. Churches and church leaders are sinners saved by grace who still sin and do make wrong decisions at times.
Personal loyalty. This is a loyalty to an individual. It is an earned loyalty. I am loyal to someone because they have earned my loyalty. Personal loyalty cannot be demanded or coerced. It can only be earned.


Let me apply these three and compare them. I am loyal to the Constitution of the United States, which is principled loyalty. Thus, I am loyal to the position of President of United States which is assigned loyalty. I can be loyal to both the principles and the position, but not be loyal to the person. I am not loyal to the man in the office of President because he has not earned my loyalty. I am loyal to his position. I will defend his position. I will fight for his position. I will not however be loyal to the man. I will not vote for him. I will not defend his policies. 

He has my loyalty as President because of his position, but he does not have loyalty personally because he is disloyal to principles, which I believe are important. I can not defend his policies because they violate my principles. This is the reason many independent Baptist people are said to have “blind loyalty.”  Bless their hearts they left their brain and Bible at the door of the church house.


Many years ago I heard Dr. Jack Hyles and Dr. John Rice preach. I was drawn to these men because of their Scriptural principles. They were Biblical principles in which I believed. Later I enrolled as a student in Hyles-Anderson College. I gave my loyalty to Dr. Hyles position. He was my pastor. He was the chancellor of my college. My loyalty had gone from principled to positional. 

Over the years I watched Dr. Hyles serve his people and serve me. I watched as he led the church to take care of former pastors who served First Baptist Church.  By the way, those pastors were not even close to what FBC believed, but Dr. Hyles knew he would not have what he had without those men of God. 

Dr. Hyles never demanded personal loyalty from me. He gave his loyalty to his people and as result I gave my loyalty to him. He earned my loyalty. What began as principled loyalty, turned into positional loyalty, and eventually became personal loyalty.
Let me make an important statement. Many pastors think their people owe them the same kind of loyalty that other pastors have earned merely because they have the same position. That is not the case. I may be loyal to a leader because of their position, but not loyal to them because of their principles and not loyal to them personally because they have not earned it. 

When Dr. Hyles died, First Baptist Church called new pastor. I was loyal to the principles that Dr. Hyles had taught. I was loyal to the position to which the new pastor had been given. However, I did not give him my personal loyalty. I reserved for him the right to earn that loyalty. Over time I saw principles to which I had been loyal violated. My loyalty was tested because of that. 

That particular man attempted to buy my loyalty by offering me large sums of money to come and identify myself with him. I sent back to him a $10,000 check with my name on it because I was not for sale. That man tried intimidation and threats, but I could not give him my personal loyalty because he had not earned it. 

I was criticized by some for remaining loyal to the position, while at the same time being criticized by others for not being loyal to that person. Eventually I separated myself from the position because I could no longer be loyal to the principles. My separation was not personal because I had never given my loyalty to the man. 
Dr. John Rice earned my loyalty. Dr. Rice was never in a position of authority over me. In fact my loyalty to Dr. Rice was first based upon principle. As I got to know Dr. Rice he earned my personal loyalty. When I heard Dr. Rice teach on a certain doctrinal subject with which I disagreed I did not withdraw my personal loyalty to the man. He earned that. Nor did I change my beliefs regarding my principles. 

Sometimes we must be loyal to someone with whom we disagree because they have earned that loyalty. Dr. Rice has earned my loyalty both principally and personally. When a disagreement arose I did not remove my loyalty from him because we still agreed on most principles and he had already earned my personal loyalty.
When Dr. Hyles was accused of wrongdoing I was personally loyal to him. Of course enemies will always attack you for that loyalty. He had earned my loyalty which meant he earned the right for me to give him any benefit of the doubt. I have learned that when you give someone the benefit of the doubt you have a greater chance of exonerating them then you will if you give their accusers the benefit of the doubt. 

The Chicago Tribune interviewed me and asked what I was going to do with my association with Dr. Hyles when his ministry went down.  I asked the reporter what was he going to do when Dr. Hyles did not go down ministry wise, but went up ministry wise.  By the way, that reporter was later fired. 

The accusers had not earned my loyalty. I did not give them the benefit of the doubt. I gave them doubt. I gave Dr. Hyles the benefit of the doubt because he had earned my loyalty. Time proved to me his innocence. 
There have been times when I have removed my personal loyalty to someone. Even then I did it slowly. I gave them the benefit of the doubt until I was proven wrong. I give my loyalty to the person who has earned it before I give my loyalty to someone who wants me to believe their story, but who has not earned my loyalty. 

The accusers of Jack Hyles had never earned my loyalty. I had seen his life. I had benefited from his goodness and his ministry. I gave him the benefit of the doubt because he had earned my loyalty not because he was in a position of loyalty. I could not give his accusers this same loyalty because they had not earned my loyalty principly, positionally or personally have not earned my loyalty.
May I give a word of advice to pastors. Quit demanding loyalty. Yes, people should be loyal because of principle and position. But, stop demanding people personally be loyal to you. If you want me to be personally loyal to you, earn my loyalty. 

Dr. Hyles did not demand that I be loyal to him. He never threw the title "Pastor" or "Man of God" in my face.When I started a college in 1982 he did not question my loyalty to him. He sent Dr. Wendell Evans to help us get started. In fact Dr. Hyles would remain loyal to people who truly were disloyal to him. Over the years Dr. Hyles earned my loyalty and I returned it to him. 
Now let me share an interesting concept. Eventually loyalty becomes reciprocal. Let me explain. There have been people that attacked Dr. Hyles because he was loyal to some of his friends they felt were out of line on some things. What they do not understand is he was returning loyalty that had been earned by these men. 

Dr. Hyles was loyal to me because I earned that loyalty by being loyal to him. There came a time when our loyalty was reciprocal. He was loyal to me and I returned that loyalty and visa versa. I was loyal to him and he returned my loyalty. Good men recycle loyalty.
Never in the entire time that I knew Jack Hyles did he throw his position at me. In fact he never threw his principles at me. He was loyal to his people therefore his people were loyal to him. He earned their loyalty. He did not demand it. He did not demand that people do for him personally even though he expected them to be loyal to his position. He did not confuse the two. 

David expected his mighty men to fight battles for the nation. David did not expect his mighty men to fight to bring him a drink of water. The first was positional loyalty. The second was personal loyalty that David had heard. 

People followed David because they saw the life of David. Then they followed David because they saw the position of David. Finally, they followed David because they saw the man David. They kept following him after he sinned because of all three. The position God gives you demands loyalty. But, the greatest loyalty will be the loyalty you earn.


I love my two pastor sons. I gave my life to raise those boys. I worked hard to be a good father and to earn their loyalty. When they were young I expected them to be loyal to the position I held as their father. Over the years I've invested a lot into my two boys. I was not a perfect father and neither are they perfect parents. I do not want from them merely a loyalty to my position. I want a loyalty to my person. I want them to be loyal to me as a man because of what I have done to earn their loyalty. Will they agree with everything I do? Of course not. 

However, my position is not the question now. It is the personal loyalty that I earned over the years I hope they will give me and then I will in turn reciprocate that loyalty to them. I believe they owe me that loyalty because I earned it, but I will not demand it. It is their choice. But, it is not a reflection on my character if they do not give me that personal loyalty. It is a reflection on theirs.
Let me be very personal. Fifteen years ago this Saturday, February 6, 2001, my heart broke at the news that my hero, Dr. Hyles had died. For these past 15 years I have often thought of the things that I said and did that I believe probably disappointed Dr. Hyles. I am very serious when I say this. I think I embarrassed him at times. I think I probably stepped out of line at times. I think there were times when in my zeal I probably made him go back to his room and shake his head and say, “When will Bob ever learn?” 

However, I can honestly say that there was never one ounce of doubt as to his loyalty to me nor mine to him. I am certain there were some people who worked for him that did not like Bob Gray, but they had no question in their mind as to his loyalty to me. 

You see, when someone has earned your loyalty, no one should ever need to question your loyalty to them. There were some who might have thought Dr. Hyles was crazy to be loyal to Bob Gray and some who thought Bob Gray was crazy to be loyal to Jack Hyles, but there was no one who doubted that we were loyal to each other. May God give us a revival of true loyalty. I am nearing the end of my ministry. I have fought a good fight but I implore Church leaders to please be careful that you do not demand something you have not earned. Do not use your title to get your way. Earn it!

Monday, December 21, 2015

DO CHURCH BOARDS RULE A LOCAL CHURCH?


A WARNING ABOUT MODERN DAY DEEDS OF THE NICOLAITANES AT WORK IN THE LOCAL CHURCH!


"But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate."  Revelation 2:6

Have you ever wondered who the "Nicolaitans" were, mentioned in the book of Revelation? Whoever they were, Jesus loathed their doctrine and hated their deeds. Let's delve into this subject today to see if we can ascertain the identity of this group. What was their damnable doctrine? What deeds were they committing that elicited such a strong reaction from Jesus? 

Let's begin in Revelation 2:6, where Jesus told the church of Ephesus, "But this thou hast [in your favor], that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." Jesus was proud of the church of Ephesus for their "hatred" of the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which He also "hated." 

The word "hate" is a strong word, so let's see exactly what it means. It comes from the Greek word miseo, which means to hate, to abhor, or to find utterly repulsive. It describes a person who has a deep-seated animosity, who is antagonistic to something he finds to be completely objectionable. He not only loathes that object, but rejects it entirely. This is not just a case of dislike; it is a case of actual hatred

Any doctrine or practice that hurts the espoused bride of Christ, for whom He shed his blood for, is a dangerous path to tread.

The thing Jesus hated about them was their "deeds." The word "deeds" is the Greek word erga, which means works. However, this word is so all-encompassing that it pictures all the deeds and behavior of the Nicolaitans - including their actions, beliefs, conduct, and everything else connected to them. 

To crack the door for compromise silently and secretly to override the local church is the action of the Nicolaitans. Jesus died and shed His blood for the local church not a board or a denomination. For there to be any authority over and above a local church is the goal of the Nicolaitans.


The name "Nicolaitans" is derived from the Greek word nikolaos, a compound of the words nikos and laos. The word nikos is the Greek word that means to conquer or to subdue. The word laos is the Greek word for the people. It is also where we get the word laity. When these two words are compounded into one, they form the name Nicolas, which literally means one who conquers and subdues the people

It seems to suggest that the Nicolaitans were somehow conquering and subduing the laity or the members of the local church. His say took precedence over their say as a local church.

The Nicolaitans were the spiritual descendants of Nicolas of Antioch, who had been ordained as a deacon in Acts 6:5. That verse says, "And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch." 

We know quite a lot of information about some of these men who were chosen to be the first deacons, whereas little is known of others. For instance, we know that the chief criteria for their selection was that they were men "...of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom..."(v. 3). Once they had been chosen, they were presented by the people to the apostles, who laid hands on them, installing 
and officially placing them as deacons. 

Stephen 

Like the other men, Stephen was of good report, filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom. However, Acts 6:5 makes a remark about Stephen that is unique only to him. It says that he was "...a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost...." This stronger level of faith may have been a contributing factor to the development recorded in Acts 6:8: "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people." 

Stephen was a God-called evangelist, and he was later privileged to be the first martyr in the history of the Church - killed at the order of Saul of Tarsus, who later became known as the apostle Paul (see Acts 7:58-8:1). The deacon ministry was vital proving ground to prepare Stephen for the fivefold office of the evangelist. The name Stephen is from the Greek word stephanos, and it means crown. This is worth noting, for he was the first to receive a martyr's crown. 

Philip 

Philip was with the other six original deacons. However, Acts 21:8 informs us that Philip later stepped in the ministry of the evangelist. He had four daughters who prophesied (v. 9). Just as the deacon training was proving ground for Stephen to step into the office of the evangelist, it was also Philip's school of ministry to prepare him for evangelistic ministry. The name Philip means lover of horses. This name often symbolized a person who ran with swiftness, as does a horse - a fitting name for a New Testament evangelist who ran swiftly to carry the Gospel message. 

Prochorus 

Very little is known about this member of the original deacons. His name, Prochorus, is a compound of the Greek words pro and chorus. The word pro means before or in front of, as with the position of a leader. The word "chorus" is the old Greek word for where we get the word choreography

Nicanor 

This unknown brother was found to be of good report, filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Other than this, nothing is known of him. He is never mentioned again in the New Testament after Acts 6. His name, Nicanor, means conqueror

Timon 

Like Nicanor mentioned above, Timon was known to be of good report, filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Nothing more is known of him outside of Acts 6. His name means honorable or of great value

Parmenas We know nothing more of Parmenas other than what is mentioned here in Acts 6. His name is a compound of the words para and meno - the word para meaning alongside and meno meaning to remain or to abide. Compounded together, his name came to mean one who sticks alongside and conveyed the idea of one who is devoted, loyal, and faithful



Nicolas 

Acts 6:5 tells us that this Nicolas was "a proselyte of Antioch." The fact that he was a proselyte tells us that he was not born a Jew but had converted from paganism to Judaism. Then he experienced a second conversion, this time turning from Judaism to Christianity. From this information, we know these facts about Nicolas of Antioch:


  • - He came from paganism and had deep pagan roots, very much unlike the other six deacons who came from a pure Hebrew line. Nicolas' pagan background meant that he had previously been immersed in the activities of the occult.

  • - He was not afraid of taking an opposing position, evidenced by his ability to change religions twice. Converting to Judaism would have estranged him from his pagan family and friends. It would seem to indicate that he was not impressed or concerned about the opinions of other people.
  
  • - He was a free thinker and very open to embracing new ideas and concepts. Judaism was very different from the pagan and occult world in which he had been raised. For him to shift from paganism to Judaism reveals that he was very liberal in his thinking, for most pagans were offended by Judaism. He was obviously not afraid to entertain or embrace new ways of thinking. 

  • - When he converted to Christ, it was at least the second time he had converted from one religion to another. We don't know if, or how many times, he shifted from one form of paganism to another before he became a Jewish proselyte. His ability to easily change religious "hats" implies that he was not afraid to switch direction in midstream and go a totally different direction. 

According to the writings of the Early Church leaders, Nicolas taught a doctrine of compromise, implying that total separation between Christianity and the practice of occult paganism was not essential. From Early Church records, it seems apparent that this Nicolas of Antioch was so immersed in occultism, Judaism, and Christianity that he had a stomach for all of it. 

He had no problem intermingling these belief systems in various concoctions and saw no reason why believers couldn't continue to fellowship with those still immersed in the black magic of the Roman empire and its countless mystery cults. This influence and ability to conquer the members of a local church is destruction in the making. No board or individual should dictate, but should be dictated to by the decisions of the local church membership or it ceases to be a local church.

It is significant that the "deeds" and "doctrines" of the Nicolaitans are only mentioned in connection with the churches in two occultic and pagan cities. It seems that the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans was that it was alright to have one foot in both worlds and that one needn't be so strict about separation from the world in order to be a Christian. This, in fact, was the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans that Jesus "hated." 

It led to a weak version of Christianity that was without power and without conviction - a defeated, worldly type of Christianity. The conquering of the laity or members of the local church was hated by Christ. 

The overthrowing of local church entity, autonomy, and indigenousness was despised by Christ. It would lead to compromise. Christ's church is to be presented without spot and blemish. This cannot happen if one or a group of ones dictate and usurp authority over a local New Testament Church autonomous and indigenous church polity.

Nicolas' deep roots in paganism may have produced in him a tolerance for occultism and paganism. Growing up in this perverted spiritual environment may have caused him to view these belief systems as not so damaging or dangerous. This wrong perception would have resulted in a very liberal viewpoint that encouraged people to stay connected to the world. This is what numerous Bible scholars believe about the Nicolaitans.  

They justified their position by getting their way through conquering the local church bathing it in compromise. 

This kind of teaching would result in nothing but total defeat for its followers. When believers allow a persona or a board to over rule the local church they are opening up the potential of sin and compromise to be in their lives, it drains away the power in the work of the Cross and the power of the Spirit that is resident in a believer's life. 

This is the reason the name Nicolas is so vital to this discussion. The evil fruit of Nicolas' "doctrine" encouraged worldly participation, leading people to indulge in sin and a lowered godly standard. 

In this way he literally conquered the members of a local church and over threw their stand.   

God wants to make sure we understand the doctrine the Nicolaitans taught, so Balaam's actions are given as an example of their doctrine and actions. Revelation 2:14,15 says, "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate."

Just as the men of Israel compromised themselves with the world and false religions, now the "doctrine" of the Nicolaitans was encouraging compromise via over ruling the local church membership's stand as a local church. As you are well aware, compromise with the world always results in a weakened and powerless form of Christianity. 

No board or no one person should ever over rule a local church for if they do they open the door to compromise by over throwing the local church autonomy. 

This was the reason Jesus "hated" the "doctrine" and the "deeds" of the Nicolaitans. No board should ever over rule the vote of a local church for if they do they open the door to compromise with "board rule" instead of "church rule."  

Thus the "deeds of the Nicolaitans" leads to compromise and generations to follow will pay the price of their compromise of overthrowing the will of the local church.