“Paul, an apostle— not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead…” -Galatians 1:1
The early 1900’s was an exciting time for the church in America. The Pentecostal movement had been birthed, and what started with a small assembly in the middle of no where, had now stretched to the distant shores of the U.S. coast. This movement was even starting to expand globally! Places like the Azusa Street revival were becoming more and more normal, as people were gaining interest on how they could experience God in a way they hadn’t experienced Him before.
During this period, there rose a group of men and women whose passion it was to preserve this move of the Holy Spirit. They saw that with this movement growing so quickly, it would be easy for some one who was uneducated or misinformed to teach falsely on God or the Holy Spirit. People could come and take advantage of innocent people, and use this move of the Spirit for their own selfish ways. This reason was one of the main reasons Harvest Time’s fellowship, The Assemblies of God, was formed.
With Harvest Time being in the Assemblies it means we hold to the doctrine that they set forth. There are specifically sixteen of these “fundamental truths” that all A/G churches and pastors must adhere to and agree upon. The denomination holds our church accountable to teaching the correct gospel, and us being in the denomination puts us in fellowship with millions of like-minded believers.
At the start of his letter to the Galatians, Paul takes longer than usual to explain the authority given to him as an apostle. There was a group that came to Galatia from Jerusalem, and they claimed that their apostleship was better than Paul’s because they were from Jerusalem (the hub), and Paul was sent from a church in Antioch. They came to Galatia and were telling them that they needed to become “Jewish” to be truly accepted as a Christian.
Paul wanted to remind the Galatians that his authority wasn’t given to him just by the church in Antioch. They might have sent him on his missionary journey, but ultimately Paul’s authority came from Christ. The Galatians were in a tight spot in that they were denying the right that Paul had as their spiritual authority. They were no longer letting him hold them accountable, which is why Paul is writing this letter with such urgency.
I think there are many people today that do not have a spiritual authority in their lives. I’ve heard of stories of non-denomination churches where the pastor will cheat on his wife and keep his position, because there is no accountability. I’ve heard of pastors who owned church buildings who sold them under their congregations feet when they got let go of their pastorate. Without accountability people are left to their own devices, and even churches are left to rely on the handful of people in their four walls.
The early church wasn’t like this. Though each church had a pastor, the church as a whole would meet and discuss issues. There is an example of this in Acts when they discuss whether Gentile Christians needed to be circumcised. Each member of the church had the spiritual authority of their pastor. Each pastor had a spiritual authority of the Twelve Apostles. The Twelve were held accountable by God.
Maybe you don’t have anyone to hold you accountable. I am blessed with a wonderful senior pastor who will sit down with me and wrestle with me over tough issues. He is patient with me and gives direction not just to me and our pastoral staff, but also to the entire congregation. If you don’t have someone who can hold you accountable, someone with whom can correct you when you are wrong, I encourage you to find someone. Christianity isn’t meant to be done alone. God put pastors and leaders in our lives for a reason. Learn to be submissive not just to God, but also whoever is your spiritual authority.
I bet even your pastor has someone who he has holding him accountable.