Have you ever considered that the nuts of Protestant denominations never fell from from the parent tree of Catholicism? Yes, many of these churches were started by men of great spiritual insight, but the systems that have formed around them is not that different than that of the Catholics. I find that Protestantism has changed the names in its own hierarchic systems, but it still places men as its authorities and spiritual guides such as Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin, and more recently the newer off-shoots of the same system of men lording over the Lord’s vineyard, Kenneth Hagen, Ken Copeland, Peter Wagner, Rick Joyner, John Wimber, Mark Driscol, etc… all these are popes in their own rite. For these we use titles like “Founder” instead of pope. We don’t use “Bishop” as the Catholics do, but rather “District Superintendent” We don’t use “father” or “priest, but rather “pastor” or “Bible teacher.” Yes, many of them have come forth placing Christ as the Head of the Church in word, but in reality, they still rule supreme over those under them — the very body of Christ. No one has dared to reform that original usurping system that Jesus spoke against when He said, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45 RSVA). It was Jesus who said, “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Mat 23:8-12 RSVA -emphasis added). I am afraid that our church traditions speak louder than His words.
John amplified on the dangers of hierarchy in his first letter to the church saying,
“Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; by which we know that it is the last time. THEY WENT OUT FROM US, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1Jo 2:18-19 KJ2000 – emphasis added)
“went out from” is translated from the Greek word exerchomai
Thayer Definition: 2d) to come forth (from privacy) into the world, before the public, (of those who by novelty of opinion attract attention)
Paul warned the elders of the early church that this would happen saying, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears.” (Act 20:29-31 KJ2000 – emphasis added).
If you get into the teachings of each of the afore mentioned men (and thousands of others since Christ, calling themselves “church leaders,” you will find “perverse things” in their teachings. The more power that they garnered to themselves, the more perverse they become. This is why Jesus spoke against the Gentile king paradigm and demanded that we be servants like Him… one with the Father and seeking the lowest seats in our gatherings, not as lords over the flock of God (see 1 Pet. 5:3) . These men come “out from” and “rise up” over the people of God with their teachings. This is the anitchirst spirit in action. This Greek word “antichristos” not only means “against Christ,” but “instead of Christ” or to “displace Christ” of His rightful place in the ekklesia of God.
John went on to write, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written unto you because you know not the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth… These things have I written unto you concerning them that deceive you. But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1Jo 2:20-28 KJ2000)
You see, deception comes in when we prefer the teachings of men and hew out for ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water as we forsake the Fountain of Living Water (see Jer. 2:12&13) — the very Spirit of God which Jesus promised would come and abide in our midst (see John 4:10 & 7:8) and lead us into all truth (see John 16:13). As we abide in the Spirit of Christ and are obeying HIM, we will be confident “before Him at His coming.” Yes, anointed teachers can share things with us from God, but they were never meant to take the place of the Comforter who leads us into all truth.
May God bless you as you listen to His voice and follow the Lamb wherever HE goes.