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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Obey Your Leaders and Submit To Them (Heb. 13:17) by Zac Poonen

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 Obey Your Leaders and Submit To Them (Heb. 13:17) by Zac Poonen



Where you have confidence in your local church-elders, it is easy to submit to them in all matters. But perhaps you do not have confidence in your elders. Then, you must distinguish between church matters and personal matters, so that you know clearly where you have to submit to your elders and where you don't have to.

Church matters:
Church matters include the conduct of the meetings of the church, the spiritual direction the church is going, the emphasis in the ministry of that church, the activities arranged by the church, etc., etc. In such matters, there must always be total submission to the directions given by the elders. This is not because you respect them as mature brothers, or because you have confidence in them, but just because they are the shepherds in the church in which God has placed you - provided you are sure that God has placed you there.

Jesus submitted to Joseph and Mary, even though they were imperfect and less mature than Him, because His Father had placed Him in their home. That was how He began opening the new and living way through His flesh - in Nazareth during His first 30 years.

We must never forget this fact that the first steps of the new and living way were opened by Jesus through submission to imperfect authorities at home. All the other steps came later.

You must never be the cause of strife in any church - for God hates those who sow discord among the brothers - however spiritual or zealous they may consider themselves to be (Prov.6:16-19). Rebellion against God-appointed leadership is always Satanic. It is the way of Korah (Jude 11; Numbers 16), and is always the result of pride and arrogance.
If, however, you are not sure that God has placed you in a particular church, then you must consider before God whether you should leave that church and join another one. But you must never stay in a church and create confusion there, for God will never tolerate that.

Neither should you be like a visitor in a church, eating the `food' there as you would in a restaurant, with no sense of responsibility. The church is not a restaurant, but a home. So you must commit yourself totally to some local church; otherwise, you will not grow spiritually. Remember, however, that you will never find an ideal church, for every church is imperfect. But, look for a church that is closest to the Word of God - as you understand it at present.

If you feel some time that you should bring in a new emphasis (that is lacking) into a church, then the proper way to do it is by first discussing the issue with the elder brothers, and then to do exactly as they direct. The improper way is to bring in your emphasis in the meetings by preaching the Word in contradiction to the direction set by the elders. If you disagree strongly with your elders in any matter, and feel that you cannot submit to their eldership, or if you feel that the elders are leading the church in a wrong direction, then remember that you are always free to leave such a church and start one of your own, with the emphasis that you feel is necessary and important.

If God is with you, He will bless you in your new step - as He blessed Martin Luther, John Wesley, William Booth, Watchman Nee and many others in many lands, through the centuries, who left their original churches and started new ones, under the direction of God. If, however, you are acting in your own stubbornness, and God is not with you, you will find yourself following in the footsteps of Theudas and Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:36,37) and many thousands of others in these twenty centuries of Christianity, who started new movements and ended up in confusion and frustration finally.

Personal matters:
Personal matters include matters such as what clothes you wear, how you spend your money, what sort of house you choose to live in, where or how you travel (by air or by train), what clothes you and your family members wear, what food you eat, what toys you buy for your children, whether your children play computer games or not, whether you allow your children to watch sporting events on a neighbour's television or not, what job you take, where you work, etc. In such matters, you have perfect freedom to do whatever you feel you should do. You don't have to obey or even consult your elders in such matters, if you don't have confidence in them. If you are in doubt about some such matter, you could even consult an older brother in another place, if you have more confidence in that brother than in your local elders. The final decision in such matters, however, is always yours. There is no rebellion in doing things differently in such matters, unless your elders feel that your conduct or your dress or your children are a stumbling-block to others in the church - in which case, you must be willing to listen to what they have to tell you about it.

The way of wisdom then is to distinguish between where you must submit to the elders in a church, and where you don't have to. A lack of confidence in your local elders does not mean that you are rebellious - for not all elder brothers are spiritually minded, and not all elder brothers necessarily inspire confidence. But if you end up submitting to no-one anywhere, then it is easy for you to become a law unto yourself, and thus become an easy target for Satan to knock off and destroy. May God help us all to walk in the way of wisdom at all times.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2011/9/2 13:32Profile
ThyKingCome
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Joined: 2011/4/19
Posts: 169
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 Re: Obey Your Leaders and Submit To Them (Heb. 13:17) by Zac Poonen

Greg, thank you so much for posting this.

I'm sure Luther, Wesley, Booth and Nee went through many internal struggles as they allowed the Holy Spirit to sift their motives,thoughts and actions.

This is a sober warning indeed.

"You must never be the cause of strife in any church - for God hates those who sow discord among the brothers - however spiritual or zealous they may consider themselves to be (Prov.6:16-19). Rebellion against God-appointed leadership is always Satanic. It is the way of Korah (Jude 11; Numbers 16), and is always the result of pride and arrogance."



_________________
Brother Kevin

 2011/9/2 13:44Profile









 Re: Obey Your Leaders and Submit To Them (Heb. 13:17) by Zac Poonen

Quote:
Where you have confidence in your local church-elders, it is easy to submit to them in all matters. But perhaps you do not have confidence in your elders.



Actually, I think you always are suppose to have confidence in God and test everything, like the Bereans, to see "if these things are so".

Like Mikey2 said, You submit to the Lord in someone. So I would say that you have confidence in the Holy Spirit. And you submit to them matter by matter, not "ALL MATTERS".


Quote:
Church matters include the conduct of the meetings of the church, the spiritual direction the church is going, the emphasis in the ministry of that church, the activities arranged by the church, etc., etc. In such matters, there must always be total submission to the directions given by the elders. This is not because you respect them as mature brothers, or because you have confidence in them, but just because they are the shepherds in the church in which God has placed you - provided you are sure that God has placed you there.



This is a bit scary. "Total submission". First of all, Jesus Christ is in charge of where the church is going and even if you are an elder, we are all brothers and all brothers should be allowed to be in any meeting regarding the church and all brothers should be involved in any decision that could affect them and their family. Steven Kaung once said, that the church does not move forward in an area or decision that affects all brothers unless all the brothers have peace from the Lord about it.

Quote:
Jesus submitted to Joseph and Mary, even though they were imperfect and less mature than Him, because His Father had placed Him in their home. That was how He began opening the new and living way through His flesh - in Nazareth during His first 30 years.

We must never forget this fact that the first steps of the new and living way were opened by Jesus through submission to imperfect authorities at home. All the other steps came later.



We are all imperfect. It is the Lord in each one of us that is perfect. This is not even relevant, as we are all imperfect. Joseph and Mary were his father and mother and Jesus submitted to them because it pleased His father. You are not supposed to use it as an example to persuade people to submit to other people by telling them that "Jesus submitted to imperfect people and so should you".

Again, this is missing the point of submission, why to do it and who to submit to.

Quote:
You must never be the cause of strife in any church - for God hates those who sow discord among the brothers - however spiritual or zealous they may consider themselves to be (Prov.6:16-19). Rebellion against God-appointed leadership is always Satanic. It is the way of Korah (Jude 11; Numbers 16), and is always the result of pride and arrogance.

If, however, you are not sure that God has placed you in a particular church, then you must consider before God whether you should leave that church and join another one. But you must never stay in a church and create confusion there, for God will never tolerate that.



Totally agree with that. If you are going to place yourself in a religious organization, then please obey their rules. They did not ask you to join, you joined on your own, so that means that you went in wide-eyed, knew their rules (extra biblical in some cases), and still decided to join. If you cause strife and division, then your are doing the work of Satan.

Quote:
Neither should you be like a visitor in a church, eating the `food' there as you would in a restaurant, with no sense of responsibility. The church is not a restaurant, but a home. So you must commit yourself totally to some local church; otherwise, you will not grow spiritually. Remember, however, that you will never find an ideal church, for every church is imperfect. But, look for a church that is closest to the Word of God - as you understand it at present.



Actually, most churches are not homes, but organizations. In my home, I don't mind visitors that drop in once in awhile. It is always good to see them and we just pick up where we left off the last time we fellowshipped. They can eat my food and have my time and we always grow spiritually when we see each other. I actually prefer informal and non-scheduled fellowship. The Lord is quite spontaneous. That is the nature of "Life". In most organizations, the thing that is missing is LIFE, because everything is so regimented and choreographed just perfectly. It's a great show, that's for sure, but it is missing LIFE. So, drop in anytime and eat my food and fellowship with me.

Quote:
If you feel some time that you should bring in a new emphasis (that is lacking) into a church, then the proper way to do it is by first discussing the issue with the elder brothers, and then to do exactly as they direct. The improper way is to bring in your emphasis in the meetings by preaching the Word in contradiction to the direction set by the elders. If you disagree strongly with your elders in any matter, and feel that you cannot submit to their eldership, or if you feel that the elders are leading the church in a wrong direction, then remember that you are always free to leave such a church and start one of your own, with the emphasis that you feel is necessary and important.



In my church, one can stand up and speak forth the Word of God and the elders don't mind. They don't see the church as being theirs, but belonging to God. I appreciate this freedom. We are all submitting to God, even the Elders. In fact, my elders don't see it this way at all that we need to be submitting everything we want to say or do in a meeting to them first. They are afraid of quenching the spirit and would rather that we speak forth what God has placed in our hearts. Everything is always done decently and in order and many get a chance to share what God has placed on their hearts.

This shows me that they also have to have confidence in God that He will lead every member of the Church correctly. When we make too many rules about interacting with each other, we quench life. Do you make all these rules in your family. No. Mostly, interactions and relationships are spontaneous and not surrounded by rules.

Jesus, took some of the dumbest questions from his disciples in front of everyone. He never told them to clear their questions with him first because it may cause someone to stumble and stop following him.


Quote:
A lack of confidence in your local elders does not mean that you are rebellious - for not all elder brothers are spiritually minded, and not all elder brothers necessarily inspire confidence.



Thank you for saying that!

Quote:
But if you end up submitting to no-one anywhere, then it is easy for you to become a law unto yourself, and thus become an easy target for Satan to knock off and destroy. May God help us all to walk in the way of wisdom at all times.



Remember, when there is no one to submit to (in prison for instance), you always should be submitting to the Holy Spirit.

It just amazes me how many teachings there are that try to keep people submitting to man as if something terrible is going to happen if we don't somehow keep the organizations humming along. I think the reason there is so much teaching on subission, is because there are so many false leaders and people leave these organizations. So, the only way to get them to stay, is to teach them that they should submit to imperfect men and in doing this they will please God.

How about this?

Php 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Who do we have confidence in?

Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Here Paul talks about commanding us, but this refers to him ministering the Word and building up the church. Look at the 1st and 3rd verse for context.

2Th 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
2Th 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
2Th 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Oh that the "church leaders" would see the members of the Body of Christ in a different light.

Rom 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

 2011/9/2 18:44









 Re:

A true man of God commands respect and has influence, he does not insist opon it.

Men of God who lead are men who are full of the Holy Spirit, whether Apostles or elders or deacons. If one has a certain view on what it means to be "Full of the Holy Spirit," one may come to the conclusion that the vast numbers of men who currently hold those positions, do so illegitimatly. We owe allegiance to the Word of God, not the doctrines of men............brother Frank

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. (prov 11:14)

 2011/9/2 23:52









 Freedom in Christ is walking with Him...

"A true man of God commands respect and has influence, he does not insist upon it."

"Men of God who lead are men who are full of the Holy Spirit, whether Apostles or elders or deacons. If one has a certain view on what it means to be "Full of the Holy Spirit," one may come to the conclusion that the vast numbers of men who currently hold those positions, do so illegitimately. We owe allegiance to the Word of God, not the doctrines of men....Appolus

Amen Frank...very good word.: Long ago, when men figured out that there was a lot of power, prestige and wealth to be gained by usurping God's place as rulers over His body...He confronted it. Where man rules, God doesn't, and it always brings death and destruction to God's people.

Jeremiah 5:30-31

30 “An appalling and horrible thing
Has happened in the land:
31 The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority; [ literally, on their own hands..[ Hebrew ]]
And My people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it? "...[ if you receive it, it may kill you...]BT

This idea of lordship over God's heritage is controlling, and legalistic, and this Doctrine is designed to keep the head man, and his men, in power and influence...over the Lay. The deeds of this doctrine end up quenching out life. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY, or FREEDOM!"

The Lord confronts those who would establish themselves as kings, or lords over His....Revelation of John quoted below....

"Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.

6. "Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans,[ lords over the lay...or kings over my people...] ..........which I also hate!"...Jesus

This idea is exactly that...Submit to me, and obey.
and.....

"But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.

15 !!!!...."So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans."...[The illegitimate self-appointed heads, leaders, of God's heritage..]

16 "Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth."....Jesus wars against these men.BT

Yes, we need Godly and Holy men that will lay their lives down for the church as Shepherds. These men are unpaid, non-hirelings, that essentially do three things.

They feed God's people, with the Word of Life..

They Protect God's people from the wolf, and the lie, and usurpers who dominate.

They manifest the Lordship of Jesus, wherever they go in the body, and without, for the blessing of the church. They establish the church, that they would walk by faith under Jesus as Head and Lord..."The head of every man is Christ."


"But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

4. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head."

This includes the hand of a controlling Pastor. Learn to walk with Jesus as your Lord, in the wonderful freedom of being loved by Him, and you will become a life-giver, as you grow up in Him.

 2011/9/3 6:03









 Re: Freedom in Christ is walking with Him...

Brothertom writes.......

"Where man rules, God doesn't, and it always brings death and destruction to God's people."

Amen brother. This particular teaching has been used to great effect down through the centuries. As a young Catholic boy, it was absolutely forbidden to ever question the priest. In the false prophet circles, they must never be questioned because you are not to " touch Gods anointed." People want to be ruled by a Pastor. They want him to do their thinking and studying for them. In my experience,Godly men encourage people to listen to God, to press into Him and see what He would say to them, hirelings want people to listen to them. Now, of course, there will be exceptions, as there always is, but in general, down through the centuries, this controlling issue, where men set up the teaching that they must never be questioned, has never been a Godly one. The question may be, do you want a Saul or do you want a David? .......brother Frank

 2011/9/3 9:36
cryinthenite
Member



Joined: 2010/9/22
Posts: 71


 Re: Obey Your Leaders and Submit To Them (Heb. 13:17) by Zac Poonen

Run from a "Leader" that wants you to "Submit" to them !!!

John 17 says "that thay may be one as we are one"

The Father Son and Spirit ane not in a power play.

God is love.

 2011/9/3 14:24Profile
PaulWest
Member



Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re:

The Lord Himself has put elders in authority as part of the local body. Paul's instructions to Timothy are as such, and there is great insight in Timothy's letters as to the relation of elders to laymen. When Poonen speaks of submission, it is not the idea of a man or woman blindly falling down at the feet of a church leader, giving them all their money, and obsequiously agreeing to interpret the Bible exactly as they do. This is a strawman.

A true elder will never "lord" his authority over another man in the Body of Christ. But there is no denying the fact that the Lord has given him a measure of authority to govern a local body, and he should do this in the mind and authority of Christ. Unfortuantely, there is much dissention in religious matters and arbitration is often needed by a man or men wiser and stronger in God than you. By submitting to the decision of an elder in a church, God will often bring immense blessing and growth into your own personal life. I myself have witnessed this dynamically in my own walk.

God's purpose in our submission to leaders is primarily to foster meekness in us by which we can grow. All things work together for good when you submit instead of rebel; when you humble yourself and show a meek and quiet spirit, God steps in and acts on your behalf - every time. Even when I disagree, I have learnt to be silent and respectful to all men (no matter how much I thought myself to be right), and God has as result given me incredible grace. (Of course, in matters of heresy you cannot acquiesce) But in all non-salvific cases, either the leader or person is removed by God, you are removed by God, or you earn great respect in the eyes of the leadership on account of your meekness and the Holy Spirit begins using you for ministy. A person cannot be a leader or an anointed teacher until he himself can submit to authortiy and endure reproof; we see this principle elucidated all throughout scripture.


_________________
Paul Frederick West

 2011/9/3 18:51Profile









 Re: Obey Your Leaders and Submit To Them (Heb. 13:17) by Zac Poonen

Hi Paul, Zac writes.........

"Church matters include the conduct of the meetings of the church, the spiritual direction the church is going, the emphasis in the ministry of that church, the activities arranged by the church, etc., etc. In such matters, there must always be total submission to the directions given by the elders."

Zac says that in every single issue concerning church matters, total submission must be given at all times. Now brother, that is hardly a strawman. There is no Scriptures to support such a view. What we do have is hundreds and thousands of examples of this teaching, down through the centuries, causing untold harm and destruction to the the Body of believers. Many brave souls stood up against this teaching, and paid the ultimate price.......brother Frank

 2011/9/3 20:35
PaulWest
Member



Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re:

Brother Frank,

You are not required to remain in a church where you disagree strongly with the leadership. The Biblical pattern is a plurality of elders. If you are at odds with elders, and such odds are irreconcilable, it is advisable to leave the church rather than stay and sew discord among the congregation. I believe this is the essence of what Poonen was saying. Like you, brother, there are many things I disagree with in how some local churches are run. I can choose to either join those churches, or not. If I do decide to join one of them, I shouldn't make waves and sew strife within that local body. Ultimately, I am there by my own volition, and can leave anytime I want to.


_________________
Paul Frederick West

 2011/9/3 21:14Profile





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