By What Authority?

A Challenge to Protestant Pastors

By Jacob Michael

This article represents a bit of a departure for me. The majority of my articles are written for Catholics, to help them better understand and defend their faith. A minority of my articles are written with Protestants in mind, to challenge them to rethink some of their beliefs. This is article, however, is written with a very specific and limited group in mind: Protestants who call themselves "pastor."

The title of this article is, of course, taken from the pages of Sacred Scripture. The Jews asked this very question of Jesus:

"And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, 'By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?'" (Matt. 21:23)

This is indeed a legitimate question, and one that any sincere Christian ought to ask of anyone who claims to be a leader appointed by God. This is my challenge to Protestant pastors: "by what authority" do you claim your title and position, and "who gave you this authority?"

To understand the gravity of this challenge, I must define the term "pastor." What is a "pastor?" The word is from the Latin, in fact, and it means - quite simply - "shepherd." If you call yourself a pastor, you are claiming to be a shepherd of God's flock.

The term "pastor" is also interwoven with the biblical term "overseer," or "elder" - in the Greek, episkopos, or "bishop." We see this in St. Paul's farewell discourse to the elders of Ephesus:
"Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son." (Acts 20:28)
There is the connection: the "episkopoi" of the church at Ephesus have guardianship over "the flock" of God's people.

Further, to be a "pastor" (shepherd, overseer, elder) is also to be an "ambassador" for Christ (c.f. 2 Cor. 5:18ff).

This is no light responsibility, and Scripture tells us that this position is never self-appointed. That is, no man can merely take it upon himself, of his own initiative, to start shepherding God's flock:
"And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was." (Heb. 5:4)

Now, the astute reader will note that the above passage is referring specifically to the office of High Priest. Some may object that it only this highest of offices that cannot be self-appointed. But this is false, since this passage speaks of pastors as well as the High Priest. Am I reading too much into this passage? No, for we see that, just as a "pastor" is a shepherd of God's flock, so the priests and High Priest are also shepherds of God's flock:

"The word of the LORD came to me: 'Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?'" (Ezek. 34:1-2)
Here Ezekiel rebukes the priests of Israel, and explicitly calls them "shepherds." We can see the connection with the title of "pastor" simply by examining the Latin Vulgate text of this same passage:

"fili hominis propheta de pastoribus Israhel propheta et dices pastoribus haec dicit Dominus Deus vae pastoribus Israhel qui pascebant semet ipsos nonne greges pascuntur a pastoribus."

Thus, when Heb. 5:4 addresses the office of High Priest, it is the office of High Shepherd, High Pastoribus. Clearly, the restriction of Heb. 5:4 applies to all "shepherds," all "priests," all "pastors": the office, because of its solemn duties and grave responsibilities (James 3:1), cannot be taken upon oneself, but rather, one must be called to this office by God.

The same, of course, goes for "ambassadors." The dictionary defines the word to mean, an "authorized messenger or representative" - thus, an ambassador must be sent. In fact, the word "apostle" is Greek for "sent one." To this we can add the words of St. Paul, who says that preachers must be "sent." (Rom. 10:15)

Now, what does "to be sent" mean, except that someone in authority over you has conferred the privilege and authority upon you? In fact, it goes without saying that the one who confers the authority must be superior in authority to the one being commissioned, since no one can confer that which he does not possess himself.

In other words, a congregation's vote cannot suffice, Scripturally speaking, to appoint a man as "pastor," since the congregation (of inferior authority) cannot confer superior authority upon a man.

What is the Scriptural pattern for such things? This we can ascertain by observing the mission of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is a pattern of Divine Succession:

God the Father (the superior authority) sends Jesus Christ  "...these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me." (John 5:36)

 Jesus, in turn, sends the Apostles "...As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." (John 20:21)

Jesus sends these Apostles "as the Father has sent me," that is, in the same manner, with the same authority: "all authority."

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matt. 28:18)

The Apostles, then, did not take their office and authority upon themselves, but were appointed by a Superior Authority, Jesus Christ. The Scriptures attest to the unique authoritative status of the Apostles in several ways, which we will examine now.

Scripture shows that only the Apostles are "entrusted" with the care of the Gospel message:
St. Paul  "...they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised."(Gal. 2:7)

 " Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Cor. 5:19)

 " accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted." (1 Tim. 1:11)

St. Timothy
 "Paul, Silvanus [Silas], and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians... we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel." (1 Thess. 1:1, 2:4)

 "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you." (1 Tim. 6:20)

 "...guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us." (2 Tim. 1:14)

You may object at this point that St. Timothy was not an apostle. I will concede that he was not an "Apostle," with a capital "A," but you must concede that Scripture clearly calls St. Timothy an apostle, thereby attesting to his apostolic authority:

"Paul, Silvanus [Silas], and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians... nor did we seek glory from men, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ." (1 Thess. 1:1, 2:6)

It is not only St. Timothy who is called an apostle by Sacred Scripture, but also St. Barnabus, Apollos, and St. Titus:

St. Barnabus - "But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out among the multitude..." (Acts 14:14)

Apollos - "I planted, Apollos watered... He who plants and he who waters are equal." (1 Cor. 3:6, 8)

"I have applied all this to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brethren... For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death." (1 Cor. 4:6,9)

The objection will be raised: Titus is nowhere in Scripture explicitly called an apostle. I reply, it is implicit in what kind of authority is accorded to the apostles. Scripture testifies that only apostles are given full authority. Compare what is said of St. Paul and St. Timothy (both of whom are called "apostles") with what is said of St. Titus:

St. Paul - "...nor did we seek glory from men, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ." (1 Thess. 2:6)

St. Timothy - "As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine..." (1 Tim. 1:3)

"Command and teach these things." (1 Tim. 4:11)

"Remind them of this, and charge them before the Lord to avoid disputing about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers." (2 Tim. 2:14)

St. Titus - "This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you." (Tit.1:5)

"Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you." (Tit. 2:15)

"...our boasting before Titus has proved true. And his heart goes out all the more to you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, and the fear and trembling with which you received him." (2 Cor. 7:14-15)

Scripture also shows that only the Apostles refer to the Gospel message as their own personal possession:
"...when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." (Rom. 2:16)

"Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ..." (Rom. 16:25)

"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel." (2 Tim. 2:8)

"Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians... for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." (1 Thess. 1:1 & 5)

"Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians... God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel..." (2 Thess. 1:1 & 2:13-14)

The Apostles possess the Gospel message precisely because it was (as the above passages demonstrated) "entrusted" to them, i.e., given to them, and not taken by them on their own initiative. This is completely in keeping with the restriction imposed by Heb. 5:4.

Thus far we have established how the Gospel message and the necessary authority that accompanies its preaching was passed on from God to Jesus Christ, then to the Apostles. The question we must ask now is this: after the original 12 Apostles, how is this Gospel and apostolic authority passed on? Is it passed on at all? After the death of the last Apostle, can any individual who feels "called" by God simply take up the mission and message and carry on where the Apostles left off?
The answer to this question is plainly "no," as we have already begun to see from Scripture. The mission and the message can only be passed on by someone who first possessed it. That is, the mission does not merely entail preaching the message, but with it comes the authority to spiritually "reproduce" and pass on the necessary authority to the next generation. Let us recap and see how this is so:

God is the source of this mission and authority

He passes it to Jesus ("the Father has sent me... all authority has been given to me")
Jesus passes it on - along with "all authority" to act "in my name" - to the Apostles ("as the Father has sent me, [i.e., in the same way and with the same authority] so I send you," "go and make disciples")
The Apostles pass the mission and authority on to men like St. Timothy and St. Titus ("with all authority" Tit 2:15)
The second apostolic generation is expected to entrust the mission to the next generation, ad infinitum
It is this last point that we must now unpack and develop a bit further. The first generation of Apostles takes care to not only pass along the message, but also creates new pastors with apostolic authority to continue transmitting the message:

"And when they [Ss. Paul and Barnabus] had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed." (Acts 14:23)

"This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you." (Tit. 1:5)

"...and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (2 Tim. 2:2)
Note once again the appearance of the word "entrust" in this last passage. St. Paul expects that St. Timothy will "guard what has been entrusted" to him, and then later "entrust" that same mission and authority "to faithful men."

There can be no other reason why St. Paul would leave his two spiritual "sons" (Ss. Titus and Timothy) explicit instructions about the qualifications for overseers, elders, bishops, etc. (c.f. 1 Tim 3:1-7, Tit. 1:5-9), than that he expects them to confer apostolic authority on new men who meet those requirements.
I mentioned earlier that the Apostles were given the responsibility of spiritually "reproducing" new pastors and bishops. It would be profitable for us to look at this in more detail.

In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve. This much we all know (again, I am assuming that I am addressing Protestant pastors who are at least mildly literate in Scripture). What may be new to you, however, is the implicit Father/Son imagery that is used in the creation narrative:

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him... then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Gen. 1:27, 2:7)

"When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth." (Gen. 5:3)
What these two passages tell us is that, when God created Adam, He was fathering a son in His own image and likeness. Note that God, in the act of fathering his first human son, breathes on the Man, at which point the Man receives his living spirit. Compare this to Jesus and the Apostles:

"Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.' And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" (John 20:21-22)

In the context of conferring His authority on the Apostles, commissioning them to go in His name to build and govern His Church, Jesus does the very same thing His Father did to the First Adam: He breathes upon them, gives them the Spirit, and "fathers" them, spiritually speaking.

This is why the Apostles then turn around and "father" new sons (that is, pastors, bishops, etc., with apostolic authority) - because this is what Jesus did to them. Thus we see St. Paul referring to Ss. Titus and Timothy (both second-generation apostles, according to Scripture) as his "sons," and calling himself their "father":
"But Timothy's worth you know, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel." (Phil 2:22)

"To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." (1 Tim. 1:2)

"To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." (2 Tim. 1:2

"To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior." (Tit. 1:4)
From here, we turn to the area of preaching specifically, that is, intepreting and teaching Scripture. Along with the title of "pastor," you (if you are a Protestant pastor) take upon yourself this responsibility, of "rightly dividing the word of truth" and teaching your flock from Scripture. Yet, as the Scriptures note that only the Apostles are "entrusted" with the Gospel, and only the Apostles refer to the Gospel in the possessive, so also the Scriptures teach that only validly appointed and commissioned "ambassadors" can have the responsibility of teaching Scripture in this authoritative fashion.

Although many Protestant pastors apply St. Paul's words, "rightly divide the word of truth," to themselves, in fact, these words were written to St. Timothy specifically, not to the congregation in general. 2 Tim. 3:16-17 shows the relationship between the legitimate ambassador and Scripture:
"All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

There is the relationship: the Scriptures are a tool for "teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness," but who is to use this tool for these purposes? That is, who has the authority to teach, reproof, correct, and train others in righteousness? The "man of God" has this authority.
But, who is the "man of God?" You may wish to claim this title for yourself as well, but a short survey of Scripture's use of the title will reveal that this, too, is a privileged title that cannot be simply taken upon oneself:

Moses - "This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death." (Deut. 33:1)

"Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal; and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, 'You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me.'" (Josh. 14:6)

The Angel of the Lord - "Then the woman came and told her husband, 'A man of God came to me, and his countenance was like the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible; I did not ask him whence he was, and he did not tell me his name...' Then Manoah entreated the LORD, and said, 'O, LORD, I pray thee, let the man of God whom thou didst send come again to us, and teach us what we are to do with the boy that will be born.'" (Jud. 13:6, 8)

Samuel - "The servant answered Saul again, 'Here, I have with me the fourth part of a shekel of silver, and I will give it to the man of God, to tell us our way.'" (1 Sam. 9:8)

Elijah - "And she said to Elijah, 'What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!'" (1 Kings 17:18)

Elisha - "And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out... When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed." (2 Kings 4:21, 32)

David - "According to the ordinance of David his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, and the Levites for their offices of praise and ministry before the priests as the duty of each day required, and the gatekeepers in their divisions for the several gates; for so David the man of God had commanded." (2 Chr. 8:14)

St. Timothy - "But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness." (1 Tim. 6:11)
Contrary to the opinion that the "man of God" can be any Christian without distinction, Scripture itself will not allow such an interpretation, insisting that the "man of God" is a figure of authority, either commissioned by God directly through Divine Intervention (such as Moses or the Angel), or appointed by another holder of authority (such as Samuel, David, Elisha, and St. Timothy).

From this very brief survey of the phrase "man of God" (there are perhaps a dozen or so more passages, relating to the characters listed above - I have chosen representative verses), we see that what holds true for "pastors" holds true for the "man of God": it is a title of authority that can in no way be taken upon oneself, but rather, it is bestowed upon a man by a higher authority. A man must be called by God to hold this title of "man of God."

But there is another objection here: you will say, "I have been called by God to be a pastor." Very well, let us take another look at Scripture to measure your claim.
Biblically, there is only one way to become a legitimate ambassador of Christ, or "pastor": by appointment from a superior. This can be done in two ways: being commissioned by a legitimate ambassador (apostolic succession), or being called directly by God. We saw examples of this in Scripture already: Ss. Timothy and Titus were appointed to their positions of authority by succession, Moses was appointed to his position directly by God, with no human mediation.
As to the first method, apostolic succession comes through the laying on of hands in ceremony:  "Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands... guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us." (2 Tim. 1:6, 14)
When St. Paul imposed his hands on St. Timothy, he passed on a legitimate apostolic authority, "entrusted" the "truth" to him, and imparted the gift of "the Holy Spirit" for the safekeeping and preservation of the Gospel.

As has already been said, only a superior can do this, and not an inferior, since an inferior cannot pass on what he does not already possess.

Now, the majority of Protestant pastors reject entirely the notion of apostolic succession (although it has now been shown, from Scripture, that apostolic succession is the ordinary means of transmitting apostolic authority and the Gospel message), and so only one option remains for the Protestant pastor: to claim to have been appointed directly by God, as Moses was (that is, by extraordinary means).

To those who would make such a claim, I issue this warning: you had better be sure of your claim. Scripture does not speak well of those who illegitimately take this position upon themselves. In the book of Acts, illegitimate leaders attempted to confuse the Christians by claiming that circumcision was necessary for salvation. The Council of Jerusalem commented upon this, saying:

"...we have heard that some persons from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions..." (Acts 15:24)
Note well what is presumed here: that it was wrong of these men to act in such a way without first having received their commission, their "instructions," from those in legitimate authority.

Further, when King Jereboam began to rule the northern tribes of Israel, it is noted that his sin was not dividing the kingdom, but dividing the Old Testament "church" by setting up alternative places of worship, and illegitimately appointing pastors:

"And this thing became a sin, for the people went to the one at Bethel and to the other as far as Dan. He also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites." (1 Kings 12:30-31).

That being said, let us examine the claim of the Protestant pastor who purports to have been called extraordinarily by God. We will look at three examples of men (or groups of men) in Scripture who were truly called by God directly to their ministry: Moses, the Apostles, and Jesus Christ.
Scripture teaches that this supernatural, extraordinary calling by God directly is the exception, not the rule. The rule is appointment by succession (as in the case of the kings, prophets, and the second generation of apostles). In the exceptional, extraordinary case, Scripture requires the proof of miracles, signs, and wonders for authenticity:

Moses - "Then Moses answered, "But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, 'The LORD did not appear to you.'" The LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A rod." And he said, "Cast it on the ground." So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the LORD said to Moses, "Put out your hand, and take it by the tail" -- so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand -- "that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you." Again, the LORD said to him, "Put your hand into your bosom." And he put his hand into his bosom; and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, as white as snow. Then God said, "Put your hand back into your bosom." So he put his hand back into his bosom; and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. "If they will not believe you," God said, "or heed the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or heed your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it upon the dry ground; and the water which you shall take from the Nile will become blood upon the dry ground." (Ex.4:1-9)

"...the LORD said to Moses, "I am the LORD; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you." But Moses said to the LORD, "Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips; how then shall Pharaoh listen to me?" And the LORD said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh; and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet... You shall speak all that I command you; and Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt..." (Ex. 6:29-7:3)

The Apostles - " shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his own will." (Heb. 2:3-4)

"Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God." (Acts 3:1-9)

"And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus." (Acts 4:29-30)

"And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people." (Acts 6:8)
In addition to the Apostles in general, there is the specific case of St. Paul, whose calling truly was extraordinary, in a way that the other apostles' calling was not. They were called by Jesus while he was still a man on the earth; St. Paul was called through a vision and a heavenly voice. Thus, we see in Scripture:
"And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them." (Acts 19:11-12)

His calling was extraordinary, and so, in keeping with this, he performed "extraordinary miracles." Finally, we come to our last example: Our Lord Himself. His was, of course, an extraordinary calling, He being sent on His mission to earth by God the Father directly. "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. (John 14:10-12)

"If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true; there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me." (John 5:31-36)

This last case should truly give pause to any professed follower of Christ who claims to have been called as a Shepherd of God's flock. Where are the miracles that must attend your ministry as verification of your extraordinary calling? If even Jesus submitted to this proof-test, how can any mere man exempt himself from this same test, unless he wishes to say he is greater than even Jesus?

Here, then, is the summary of what we find in Scripture: no man can take the responsibility or title of "pastor" to himself. Rather, he must be sent by God, either indirectly (via succession), or directly (via extraordinary calling). If he claims the latter, his mission must be accompanied by miracles, signs and wonders as proof of his Divine vocation.  This is the crux of my challenge to you, if you are a Protestant pastor: by what authority do you claim your office? By succession? If so, demonstrate that you were called by a superior authority who himself had a legitimate claim to his office. By extraordinary calling? If so, then show the required signs and wonders that authenticate your ministry.

In conclusion, I say to you: you must be absolutely sure, for your own soul's sake, that your calling is legitimate. In Numbers 16, Korah set himself up as an illegitimate authority against God's appointed authorities, and was destroyed for his audacious act. This problem has not disappeared in our day, for we find St. Jude warning us of falling into the same sin:

"Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error, and perish in Korah's rebellion." (Jude 11)
You may choose to brush this challenge aside, but that will not absolve you of the account that you will have to give before God one day regarding these issues. I invite to ask yourself, honestly: have you set yourself up illegitimately against the legitimate authorities who can prove their mission by succession? Are you in danger of being destroyed for committing Korah's sin?

One side note, to those of you who read this who are not pastors: this same challenge applies secondarily to you. Are you certain that the man who shepherds your soul is a legitimate leader? Or are you following a self-appointed shepherd who is in rebellion against God's appointed authorities?