By Akin Ojumu

During a Q&A session at the Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, a few years ago, a member of the audience took to the microphone to ask a question of Pastor John Macarthur. As the lady asked her question, you could sense her trepidation; the paper from which she read her questions was shaking and the quivering in her voice was quite audible.

Despite her uneasiness, the lady summoned all the courage she could muster, and she was able to go through with her questions. The question the lady asked, I believe, is one question that’s in the hearts and minds of many befuddled and frazzled members of Church congregations around the world who have been abused and misused by their pastors. The lady wanted to know the extent of a Pastor’s authority over the people over whom he is a shepherd.

Many will find the answer the lady received to her question quite stunning. I know it is not the type of response many Pastors would want to hear. What Pastor John Macarthur told the woman is not something that will sit well with many men of God out there who have turned themselves into gods of men. 

Yet, it is a response I wish these mini-tyrants terrorizing the Household of Faith will take to heart and put to practice. The Body of Christ is full of too many power-drunk despots who need to be reminded of the limit of their authority, and who must understand the extent of their power.

Question from the Audience
To what extent is a member of a Church required to obey his Pastor? How much authority does a Pastor have in the lives of his congregants?

Response from Pastor John Macarthur
Um…none. No authority. Um…I have no authority in this church, personally. My experience doesn’t give me any authority. My knowledge doesn’t give me any authority. My education doesn’t give me any authority. Um…I have no authority. My position doesn’t give me any authority. My title doesn’t give me any authority…that’s why I don’t like titles.

Only the Word of God has authority. Christ is the Head of the Church, and He mediates His rule in the Church through His Word. I have no authority. I don’t have authority beyond the Scripture. I can never exceed what is written…1 Corinthians 4:6. To do that is to become, Paul says, “arrogant and to regard yourself as superior.” I have nothing to say to you that puts any demand on you if it isn’t from the Word of God.

So, the Pastor, in himself, has no authority. Listen to what Paul says, “Who is Paul? Who is Apollos? Who is Cephas?” We are nothing. It’s all of Christ. It’s all of the Holy Spirit. It’s all of the Scripture.

There you have it from a man who himself is a Pastor and has been a Pastor of the same congregation since 1969. He must know a thing or two about pastoring and pastoral authority.

Many of you folks are too far gone in the worship of men as gods that you need to be reminded that your Pastor was not crucified on the Cross for you. It certainly wasn’t your Pastor’s blood that was shed for the remission of your sins and the redemption of your soul.

When you were baptized, it wasn’t in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Pastor. And the Lord Jesus did not promise that “You shall receive power when the Pastor’s spirit comes upon you.” Peter did not ask you to, “Desire the sincere milk of the Word of the Pastor, that ye may grow thereby…”

You are then a follower of Christ and not of your Pastor. Christ and His Word should always be your ultimate and final authority on all things pertaining to your life. And Him alone you should worship.


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