|Volume 20 Number 8 August 2018||
We often see religious leaders wearing such titles as “Reverend,” “Right Reverend” or “Father.” Is this practice in harmony with the teachings of the Bible?
The word “reverend” is found only once in the King James Version of the Bible. The psalmist glorified God by saying, “…holy and reverend is His name” (Psalm 111:9). The word “reverend” in that verse means that the name of God is worthy of respect, fear and awe. The New King James Version translates it, “…holy and awesome is His name.” “Reverend” is never used in the Bible as a title for a mere human.
The scribes and Pharisees loved religious titles. Jesus denounced the scribes and Pharisees for loving the “…greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’” “Rabbi” meant “Teacher” or “Master.” They loved to wear that term as an exalting title. Jesus continued by warning His disciples, “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren” (Matthew 23:7-8). All who are truly Christians are equal with each other as brothers and sisters. No Christian should desire a religious title that exalts him or her above any other Christian. It should be enough of an honor to wear the name “Christian.”
Jesus forbid using “Father” as a religious title. “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). This command is very clear. Yet, many people use “Father” as a religious title today. Some also use the term “pope,” which means “papa,” which is another way of saying “father.” Jesus spoke these words many centuries ago, and the passing of time has not changed His words. Jesus still forbids religious titles such as “father” and “pope.”
The apostles never used such exalting titles. They were simply called “Peter,” “Paul” and “John.” They did not want people to exalt them or to pour words of flattery upon them (Acts 10:25-26). Instead, they exalted Jesus Christ, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14; 1 Peter 4:10-11; 5:5-7, 11).
The attitude of Job is a good example for us. It perfectly agrees with the teachings of the New Testament on this subject. Job said, “Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; Nor let me flatter any man. For I do not know how to flatter, Else my Maker would soon take me away” (Job 32:21-22).
[Editor’s Note: First, the Hebrew word underlying “reverend” in Psalm 111:9 appears often in the Old Testament when it could not be construed as a title. Sometimes, though, it pertains to mortals, in particular, Moses and Joshua (Joshua 4:14) or Solomon (1 Kings 1:51). Still, these instances did not constitute titles for humans comparable to the exaltation of God in Psalm 111:9. The reverence and awe owed to God (Nehemiah 1:5; Job 37:22; Psalm 89:7), though, was and is sometimes misplaced on someone or something other than on Almighty God (2 Kings 17:7). For instance, fallible men have attributed to themselves religious titles. Secondly, the reassignment of academic or professional titles such as “Doctor,” “Governor,” “Judge” or “Colonel” to brethren in religious settings amounts to the same unwarranted distinction between brethren. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Those who study such things, namely psychiatrists, tell us there are five basic drives in life: (1) to live, (2) to be with others, (3) to love and be loved, (4) to excel and (5) to believe in something everlasting. It’s no small wonder that these desires are of what a man’s life consists, for they are all found in the early pages of the Bible as we recount the story of the creation.
To live In the beginning, God said, “Let’s make man in our own image” (Genesis 1:26), and He did so, thereby giving man the will to live.
To be with others God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will create a help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18), and He created Eve, the first woman, to give Adam the company God said he needed. Thereby He fulfilled man’s desire to be with others.
To love and be loved Not only did Eve fulfill Adam’s need to be with like kind, but since she was created out of Adam, he said, “This [that is Eve] is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh…therefore a man shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24). God placed man and woman together to satisfy their need for companionship and love.
To excel “God said: ‘Be fruitful and multiply; replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion over it” (Genesis 1:28). Here God instilled in His creation the drive to excel!
To believe in something everlasting God’s instruction regarding the tree of life in the Garden was, “In the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). We don’t know how long the period of time was before Eve was tempted by Satan and did eat of that tree, but we can know that before the temptation she didn’t eat because she didn’t want to die. Then, Satan convinced her, “You will not die; your eyes will be opened and you will be as God” (Genesis 3:4-5). She surely thought that if it would make her like God, she would live forever.
These five basic drives of life are still in man today. We’ve heard the old saying that “the more things change, the more they remain the same.” There is a definite pattern to the order of the world. Go back and read the early chapters of Genesis and rediscover how history repeats itself, but let’s examine all this in light of eternity. Our bodies are finite; that is, our bodies will not last forever, and we know this as we witness death every day. Unless still living at the Lord’s return, everyone will die and face the Judgment of God, and the living will also be judged. Our souls are infinite; that is, they are endless and will last forever. The apostle Paul was “in hope of eternal life which God, Who cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2).
Every man has an eternal soul, and those who accept this fact should want to guard their minds and hearts in Christ Jesus so that they can lay hold on eternal life. One can do this by (1) hearing the Word of God. 'Faith comes by hearing the word of God' (Romans 10:17). (2) When one hears the Word, he must believe and accept that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), including himself. (3) When one acknowledges that he is a sinner, he must be sorry for his sins, “repent and turn to God” (Acts 26:20). (4) The believer will confess Christ as Savior, “for with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). (5) He will be “buried with Him by baptism into death that, like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). The old man thereby is crucified with Jesus (Romans 6:6). The faithful must put their hands to the plow and not look back, understanding that the Lord promised, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
It is my prayer that you will believe that you have an eternal soul that will spend eternity in either a good place or a bad one. If you are not prepared to go to the good place, please have the courage to make your “basic drive” in life to spend “an eternity” in Heaven with God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the angels and the saints of all ages!