October 19, 2017

Without Benefit of Clergy

By Ron Halbrook

For the Truth's Sake, baptized believers must be active in Christ's kingdom. Each Christian must run the race so that he may obtain God's approval (1 Cor. 9:24). Each must "endure hardness, as a good soldier of Christ" (2 Tim. 2:3). Christians join in offering "up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5). They resist the temptation to conform to the world in sin, and they care for the helpless (Ja. 1:27). God "without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work" (1 Pet. 2:17). God is not concerned with any effort to earn, deserve, or merit His approval (Rom. 4:1-5), but with "faith which worketh by love" (Gal. 5:6). When the lost seek God's approval,.they must come to Him in "obedience to the faith," serving the God of all grace in "obedience unto righteousness" (Rom. 1:5; 6:16).

No one can hear, believe the gospel, repent of sins, confess Christ, or be baptized for us (Rom. 10:17; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:10 1 Pet. 3:21). "Repent, and be baptized every one of you," Peter said. No one else can run, endure, offer sacrifices, resist temptation, care for the needy, or otherwise "obey the truth" in our place (Gal. 3:1). Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Lk. 9:23). God's love is personal and individual. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men"-The Gospel is for each one of us (Tit. 2:11). God patiently awaits our obedience to the gospel, for He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). Our love for God and acceptance of His grace must be personal and individual.

The modern clergy-laity systems are all frauds and counterfeits of New Testament Christianity. They blunt "faith which worketh by love" because they create a class of professional religionists. These professionals stand between God and the individual, non-professional saint. The professional clergy studies, keeps, and dispenses "the mysteries" to the common laity. It is considered impudent if not vulgar for an ordinary layman to question the professional "Reverend." The "Reverend" is something of a sacred cow in the domain of religion. The laity looks to the clergy to confer special blessings, perform acceptable worship, and to offer whatever service is necessary to keep things straight with God in behalf of the nonprofessional.

Simple New Testament Christianity requires the obliteration of the kingdom of the clergy and any distinction between "clergy" and "laity." "Clergy" is from kleros, a lot, heritage, or inheritance. Rather than some of us being elevated to receive others of us as a special lot or heritage, we are all equally God's inheritance in Christ (Eph. 1:11). "Laity" is from laos, the people. Rather than some of us being common, ordinary non-professionals, all "the people of God" are equally His purchased possession (Tit. 2:14; Heb. 4:9). The kleros are the laos without distinction. Let us hear and obey God's Word "without benefit of clergy." No professional can render for us that "faith which worketh by love."

Truth Magazine XXI: 16, pp. 252-253
April 21, 1977

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