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Question #97

Are located preachers scriptural?

I have heard that there is no scripture for a located preacher. Can you please answer this on your website?

The Answer:

There was a time when whether “located preachers” were scriptural was a hotly debated issue in the church. Most people have now learned that the Bible permits congregations to hire a preacher to live and work among the congregation. The greatest advocates opposing the practice were Karl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett. Both of them have now gone to the opposite extreme and teach that all people who claim to be Christian are among the saved and should be fellowshipped by churches of Christ. While they are living proof that one extreme often begets another, having located preachers is not unscriptural because they opposed it nor scriptural because they now don’t oppose much of anything. The question is and must always be, “What saith the scripture?”

There are admittedly different kinds of preachers. Paul desired not to build on another man’s foundation (Rom. 15:10). On the other hand, Paul recognized, condoned and apparently assisted others in building on his foundation (1 Corinthians 3:6ff.). Paul worked for years in given areas and was associated with local churches in these endeavors (Acts 18; 19). Paul even preached to those brethren (Acts 20:20-27). (Paul was certainly an apostle, but can an apostle, miracles and inspiration aside, do something in the act of preaching and teaching that another cannot do? It was Paul who reprimanded the church at Corinth for its failure to financially support preachers as they should have (1 Cor. 9:6-14). Paul received support from other churches in order to preach to the church at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:8). In spite of these facts that would seem to establish that a preacher can preach for years in a location and be financially sported, some continue to espouse the “mutual edification” doctrine (the members must teach one another without the presence of a preacher).

Involved in the mutual edification doctrine are a number of key words and phrases to which the proponents of that position have given special meaning. Preach means to address non-Christians; therefore, one cannot preach to the church. Someone should have told Paul of this definition so that he would not have made the mistake of charging Timothy to preach to the church at Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:2-5). It is evident that the church at Ephesus had elders while Timothy worked with the church (see 1 Tim. 1:3; 5:17-20). The mutual edification proponents also assert that we cannot teach the lost. Notwithstanding this position, were read of the lost being taught (Acts 5:20-21, 42). The term evangelist only applies to one who travels and preaches to the lost. While it is true that the term evangelist is applied to those who teach the lost (Acts 8:5; 21:8), it is also applied to a located preacher who preaches to the church (2 Tim. 4:1-5). Finally, it is contended that feed in 1 Peter 5:2 means to teach and that elders are told to teach the local church. However, the Greek word that Peter uses is better translated “tend” as in the American Standard Version. Elders are to tend the flock and oversee the teaching to be certain that it is scriptural, but they don’t need to do it all personally.

Please don’t misunderstand. The Bible clearly teaches that members of a local congregation are to mutually edify one another (Eph. 4:16), but those who bind their notion of mutual edification on others bind man-made laws that God has not bound. Moreover, they are vitriolic in their language. They contend that any “located preacher” who is paid by the local congregation is a “hireling.” While such name calling is perhaps nothing more than an attempt to control the language of the debate, it ill becomes those who claim to represent the Master. If they want to use the term as Jesus did, they should read John 10:12: “He that is a hireling, and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, beholdeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth, and the wolf snatcheth them, and scattereth them.”

More can be and has been written and said. However, those who cannot be persuaded by these scriptures is “unpersuadable.”

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)