Choose Your Pastor Carefully

CIT IS the will of God for everyone who places his or her faith in Jesus Christ to join fellow believers and be tended, fed and cared for. In fact, we are instructed not to forsake the assembly of the brethren. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are given particularly for our spiritual development. They are to feed Christ’s disciples to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him so that everyone may conform to His image.

Pastor has been used in the heading to refer to any minister who shepherds, teaches, counsels, exhorts, encourages, corrects, rebukes and prays for and with believers in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is sad that many people follow pastors without adequate knowledge. You can be worshipping God with a well-known church and still be following a false pastor. A popular and prestigious church is good but a gospel-focused and Christ-centred pastor is better. He is an honourable vessel.

Who is your pastor? Why do you follow him? Well, many factors may influence the choices we make. But when it comes to choosing a pastor in this age of proliferation of counterfeit ministers, one must be careful. First, we must pray for the Holy Spirit to lead us. As Christians, we must first pray about everything we decide to do to determine the will of God. And before we pray in a situation like this, we ought to have been trained in the Word of righteousness to distinguish between genuine and false pastors.

Today, a counterfeit bishop can be found in an Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal or Charismatic church. You can only identify a true servant of Christ if you have read and studied the Bible to uncover the uniqueness of the calling, preparation/training, commissioning, ministrations, character and aim of the biblical servants of God. Genuine pastors minister by the mission and vision of God which are set out in scripture.

Now, it is not proper to choose a pastor merely because of his bodily stature, oratory skills, seminary training, priestly garment or ecclesiastical titles. Many are influenced by these, but they are certainly not the criteria. In this world, there are many apostles, prophets and bishops but not everyone is a servant of Jesus Christ. A servant of Christ follows Christ; he is Christ-centred and gospel-focused. So, choose a minister who follows Jesus Christ. Choose a pastor with Christ in mind. Choose a pastor with eternity in mind and choose a pastor with the salvation of your soul in mind.

For example, a Christ-centred pastor will explain to you how God the Father wants to be worshipped. The Owner and Head of the church made it plain that God cannot be worshipped on our terms but on His terms. We do not determine how we should worship our Maker. He does. Jesus taught that worshipping God in Spirit is the only way that pleases the Father. There is no alternative.

He explained this to a Samaritan woman He ministered to in the days of His flesh: “Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.

“God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth” (John 4: 21 – 24).

In ministering to the Samaritan woman, Christ said the Father seeks spiritual worship or Spirit-driven services and sacrifices. Our Saviour made it clear that the kind of people the Father seeks to worship Him ought to be “true worshippers”. Who are the true worshippers? He qualified the worshippers with the word “true”. That is, they are not to be fake, pretentious or false worshippers but “true worshippers”. They are not supposed to be cold worshippers. They are not supposed to be lukewarm (half-hearted) worshippers.

But God seeks true worshippers or full-hearted worshippers to worship Him. Here, Christ meant that not everyone else’s act of sacrifice and service to God can touch the heart of God or please him. As God rejected the sacrifice of Cain, He may as well reject any worship which does not come from “true worshippers and in Spirit”.

By “true worshippers”, the Lord Jesus meant sanctified people, people separated from the impurities of this world – (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life), and people set apart who are conscious of their holy, high and heavenly calling, to worship in a right manner. True worshippers live a high life and strive to walk “worthy of their calling”.

The true worshippers are genuinely adopted children of God bought at a price by Christ Jesus with His own blood. The true worshippers are righteous people who know that they are not their own. They are aware that their bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. They know that the Holy Spirit lives in their hearts. They know that a believer’s heart is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.

The early church understood and diligently followed the teaching of Jesus Christ. Thus they worshipped God in Spirit. They had no confidence in man’s natural abilities. By this, they were united and followed the appointed ministers of the gospel. False prophets and teachers they would not follow but flee from them.

By James Quansah