Monday, August 07, 2006

The Keys ! Do You Have Them?


I continue to find that very few people seem to know very much about the Keys of the Kingdom and the work of them amongst ordained men. I am surprised when many commented in text that" a pastor is just another man". I submit to you that we all need to hold pastors worthy of double honor. Also I want to say that you and I that are not ordained that we do not have the authority nor can we do the job of using the keys of the kingdom. You may blog, admin or run a chat room, teach others in some other format, etc. but if you do it out of the authority of Christ you are against Scriptures. Simple to fix? Yes! Go to your elders and let them make an authoritative decision and work under their God given authority. Please read what I have put together and if we need to talk let's discuss this more on line. God bless you ..... Steve


I find it unfortunate that there have been two extremes errors regarding the keys of the kingdom. The first error, not necessarily the greatest error, is the extreme that Peter and Church leaders after him received absolute unquestioned authority. The second equally extreme error is that the Peter and Church leaders (elders) receives little or no authority at all. The first view is taken by the Roman Catholic Church and implies that Peter and all his successors have all the authority in the Church. This has lead to more errors than we could even dare to mention here since volumes have been written on those errors. The second does not really see ministers nor the Church with any real authority in ones life. It opens the door to going to church “if I feel like it”, the sin of not giving honor to the elders, nor seeing and understanding the call of God and ordination to a man as hardly anything at all. There is little to no acknowledgement (usually none) that one is to “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls”.Mat 16:18-19 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (19) I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Neither of the extremes are correct for the men that lead the Church are called of God, working under His authority, and in their call and ministry “whatever (they) bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever (they) loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" is their ministry.In this writing I am more concerned with the second extreme. That extreme creates many a problem. One is that without ecclesiastical authority and proper biblical processes of discipline Christians go around stating that others are not Christians for many different reasons. Each person seeks to take unto themselves the keys of the kingdom. This should not be so. It leads to vigilante, independent Christianity since there is no authority but “my own” as I privately read and interpret the Bible for and by myself.
The problems taken own are making judgments by oneself without question or accountability from anyone with true ecclesiastical authority. Many times it causes people to bear false witness against one another and leads to fights and disputes. And so on this goes.

Now opposed to the concerned extremes I mentioned above the scripture is clear that Jesus is head of the church. The government of the Church is upon His shoulders as Isaiah stated: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6)

The confession of Peter in Matt 16:16-19 is the one Christian confession which is the very foundation of the Church. After stating his confession and Jesus commenting upon it Jesus conferred upon Peter official church authority, obligations; and responsibilities regarding administrating the keys of the kingdom.Mat 16:16-19 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.The authority conferred upon Peter is in the administering the keys of the kingdom as a man called of God and is also to be exercised by all the officials of the Church since they too are called of God and ordained to this duty.

Christ has appointed a Church that is to function presbyterial in form. The administration of the constitution of the Church, the Bible, is carried through ordained officers called elders, presbyters, or bishops. (Acts 15; 1 Tim 5:17; Acts 20:17,28) The elders of the Church have been given power and authority which resides in the keys of the kingdom. Neither Peter nor any elder or group of elders have been given unquestioned power and authority. But they do have official Church authority, divinely called obligations and responsibilities to the Lord and to the Church in the office of administration of the keys of the kingdom.

The administration of the keys by the elders throughout history past and in the future have the same results Peter was described to have had. (compare Matt. 16:18-19;18:17-18; Jn. 20:21) Remember it is the Lord that calls and ordains men to administrate His authority in the Church. (Eph.2:20; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 PT. 3:17; Heb. 1:1,2)

1Co 12:28-29 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. (29) Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

Eph 4:11-13 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

Mat 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.Joh 20:21-23 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld."

Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

The keys are not their keys but the keys are owned by the Head of the Church who is Christ Jesus Her Lord who alone has the power to open or to close the kingdom of heaven since He has “the keys of Death and Hades” Rev. 1:18. The elders are called to administer Christ’s keys in the Church. They are the administrators of the power to open or close the kingdom of heaven to men for Christ said to them “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”.

The keys are the preaching of the word of God and Church discipline. Both of which the elders of the Church are to administer. The constitution of the Church is the Bible which is the inspired Scriptures which includes the sixty six books of the Old and New Testament: Genesis – Revelation. It is the only and supreme authority within the Church.

a. The Preaching of the Word of God

The preaching of the word is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe ( Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18). When preached in truth and purity God opens the kingdom to believing sinners (John 3:16). Why does the preaching bring life? Because it is one of the keys of the kingdom given to the Church for this very reason!The key of faithful preaching does not only open the kingdom. The key of faithful preaching also closes the kingdom to those that reject, are neglectful or are indifferent to the gospel message. In the pronouncement of the gospel the kingdom is either opened to a person or closed to a person. When the gospel is preached the keys to the “door of the kingdom turn” either in opening or closing the door of the kingdom to men.

b. Church Discipline

The second key is that of Church discipline. With this key “ a man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject” and when one will not hear the Church “let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”. This is the actual administration by the power of Christ by which heaven is closed to a person unless they repent.The key of Church discipline does not only close the kingdom. When faithfully administered it also opens the kingdom to the repentant sinner. (2 Cor. 2:6-8)

Finally lets note that the Scriptures do not lend themselves to individual aggression against thehereticks outside of Church authority. It is important that we note that the letters in the New Testament by the apostle Paul and others are written to the Churches and therefore the church leadership was involved in all the divisive and heretical issues. Individuals did not make judgments out side of the ordained church leadership. Therefore the ordained men use the keys of the kingdom and instructing its “members” how to act and react. And they used the keys to perform regarding Church discipline. There are no independent “para church” vigilante Christians in the New Testament Scripture, the Christians took the instruction of the apostles and elders! We are to take the instruction of the elders today as well, We are not to make judgmental calls ourselves. We cannot find people doing that in the scripture.

Those that had the administration of the keys of the kingdom do make the judgments and then gave Christians instructions concerning the heresies in the first century church. These principles we do and can apply today in cases of heresy but the leadership still needs to ensure they have instructed us in what groups are non-christian since they have properly administered the keys of the kingdom.Paul was clear in the Pastoral Epistles, as well as at Ephesians that the elders of the Church were to teach, instruct and warn watching out for the souls of the people of God (Acts 20; Heb. 13:17; etc.) Timothy, a called man of God was instructed by Paul to do the work of the ministry (using the keys) instructing the church, disciplining the deficient and negligent, being instant in and out of season, regarding error and apostasy doing the work of the ministry (using the keys). Paul told Titus that the mouths of the insubordinate and deceivers had to be stopped. (Titus1:11) How? By the use of the keys of the kingdom.. The church leaders are the ones that are to take the lead in these things as they watch for our souls. It is interesting that there is not one person that came forward with a doctrinal heresy but those called and ordained of God.

I do believe that all hereseys are to be worked through the church and its ecclesiastical authority and never attacked and “pounced upon” by individual people of faith. This does not mean that the people in the church cannot show and discuss with the elders the errors they think have discovered. Nor does it mean that the elders cannot give people in the Church the go ahead to speak and use diverse means of communications in order to note present day hersies. But we must remember that it is the job of the elders to lead the way as our authority since they have their authority from Christ in the administration of the keys of the kingdom.We see this throught the Scriture:

The Church at Rome was to avoid divisive persons. Again this is a Church discipline (key issue). Paul told the Church that Satan would be crushed under their feet shortly. Note the letter is to the church.John instructed the lady in his second letter to beware of those that would come to her home that had the message of antichrist, She was not to show hospitality nor greet them at all.

Peter, wrote warning believers about those peddling false and damaging doctrine. He asked them to make their calling and election sure and to beware lest they too fall from their steadfastness. He called for them to grow in grace and knowledge. He did not call for them by themselves, in an independent fashion to take on those bringing false doctrine.

Jude and Peter, a minister of the keys of the kingdom, wrote instructing the Church concerning certain heretics. He used the keys exposing them (1:5.19) and ask the Christians to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints to against them and the finally in watching for their souls instructed them in the necessity of “building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”

May God give us the wisdom to have discernment to know our position in Christ’s kingdom and may we pray for those that watch for our souls, Also may we not sin in judging anyone prematurely and in the case of possible heresy get the info to our church leaders quickly so that the keys of the kingdom can do their work for the glory of God and the purity of His Bride!


Appendix A

WCF Chapter 30: Of Church Censures

30:1 The Lord Jesus, as King and Head of His Church, hath therein appointed a government, in the hand of Church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate (Isa_9:6, Isa_9:7; Mat_28:18-20; Act_20:17, Act_20:28; 1Co_12:28; 1Th_5:12; 1Ti_5:17; Heb_13:7, Heb_13:17, Heb_13:24).

30:2 To these officers, the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed: by virtue whereof, they have power respectively to retain, and remit sins; to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the Word and censures; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the Gospel, and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require (Mat_16:19; Mat_18:17, Mat_18:18; Joh_20:21-23; 2Co_2:6-8).

30:3 Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offences, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honour of Christ, and the holy profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant and the seals thereof to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders (Mat_7:6; 1Co_5:1-13; 1Co_11:27-34 with Jud_1:23; 1Ti_1:20; 1Ti_5:20).

30:4 For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season; and by excommunication from the Church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person (Mat_18:17; 1Co_5:4, 1Co_5:5, 1Co_5:13; 1Th_5:12; 2Th_3:6, 2Th_3:14, 2Th_3:15; Tit_3:10).


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