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The ‘Family Test’

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The ‘Family Test’

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It is our responsibility as believers to check out ministers in accordance with God’s Word. And one of the primary qualifications given in Scripture for prospective and active ministers is regarding their family and marital stability.

Paul wrote within his “pastoral letters” of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus that prospective deacons, elders, and overseers, needed to be tested and verified before entrusting them with such positions of responsibility:

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Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

(1 Timothy 3:2-13, NIV)

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An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

(Titus 1: 6-9, NIV)

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And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

(2 Timothy 2:2, NIV)

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These qualifications Paul listed were prerequisites for ministry, which means they are foundations upon which a true ministry should be built. Being foundational, these qualifications remain ongoing requisites for continued ministry as well.

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Marriage and The Family:

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Two of the key foundational requisites for ministry listed above are a sound marriage, and a stable family. If the marriage of a minister (or their family) were discovered to be falling apart, God’s Word would necessarily disqualify them from active ministry until such time as these issues were repaired and/or resolved.

When I served as an instructor in a bible institute to prepare Christian men and women for ministry, it happened to be that the two courses I taught were Christian Doctrines and Marriage and the Family. Over the years, I have come to believe that these two topics are critical for any Christian minister to be established within their calling. Most ministers fall due to either bad doctrine, or marriage/family failures (and often for both reasons).

God’s Word reveals that He is into family; and that He requires stable marriages and orderly households of His chosen vessels. Too often, a minister “sacrifices” his or her spouse and/or family on the “alter” of personal ambition because their priorities are out of line with God’s Word. Such spiritual and psychological deficiencies need to be repented of and corrected, or alternately, exposed as a warning to others. The only OTHER alternative is to have many wounded lives and disillusioned parishioners.

Given the number of broken marriages and families that litter the field of ministry today, it would seem the facts bear witness that such important aspects of the lives of preachers are severely neglected and need to be addressed publicly.

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An Absurdity:

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Can anyone rightly say that marital and familial stability are not important? How many “unexpected” divorces have shocked church congregations and/or Christian television viewers? I know of many.

How many “revelations” of adultery (or worse) have emerged from “celebrity” minister families, and crushed the faith of shocked believers? Again, I am aware of numerous.

How many “preacher kids” have come into the public limelight for criminal activity, failed marriages, drug abuse, or worse? I could name more than a few.

So it would be an absolute absurdity for anyone to suggest that the marriages and families of ministers are unimportant subjects to be examined when evaluating a ministry.

In truth, if the Body of Christ were more diligent to identify problems before they exploded into the public light on their own (in all their ugly character), we could probably prevent much of the pain and suffering that has occurred among Christian leadership—and especially among their wounded followers.

This principle applies to the Copeland family as much as to any other group of ministers throughout history.

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A Touchy Subject:

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As soon as one begins examining the familial and marital qualifications of an active preacher, however, there are some people who become rather angry that a minister’s “privacy” was invaded. I am certainly sympathetic to such concern. After all, who really wants to have their personal problems aired publicly? And what honest God-fearing believer really wants to hear about these things?

Nevertheless, the Bible is very clear in the above precepts that we must examine such issues.

In fact, can anyone say that the Scriptures themselves are not loaded with marital and family details? How do we know about Bathsheba? Or Jacob’s two wives? Or where did we find out about the strife among their twelve sons? Moses’ marital problems with Zipporah, and his several subsequent marriages are all there to see “in full color” also. Within the New Testament, we learn about Peter traveling with his Christian wife and about Ananias and Sapphira dropping dead during a church service.

So, the examples found within the Bible give us plenty of confirmation that God has intended for us to know such things about the people who have leadership roles in our lives. We do not have to know all the “gory details” so to speak, but we should certainly know whether there are sufficient problems to question a minister’s current qualification for leadership and ministry.

Consequently, and regrettably, we must press forward in disclosing such information…

This section of KennethCopelandBlog.com is the one we regret having to do the most. However, family and marriage issues are certainly one category that should be examined, so we will be examining the Copeland and Neece families to see if Kenneth Copeland Ministries is all that it is has reported itself to be.

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Our biblical examination will begin by examining Kenneth and Gloria Copeland: The Untold Story.

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So again, we and our growing number of advocates are still calling on Kenneth Copeland, his family, and his ministry, to simply repent.

Grace and blessings to all of you who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity (Ephesians 6:24)..

Always in Jesus,

-Rich Vermillion

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