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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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Brother Paul,

The issue is not about staying at a local church and sowing discord. We could discuss that but it would be a seperate issue. The issue is about " total submission,' in " matters of the church." That is either right or it is not. It is either Scriptural or it is not. If it is not Scriptural, then, it is a mans doctrine. My question to you brother Paul would be then, do you believe what the article taught " total submission in regard to church matters." If you agree, then we simply disagree. God bless you brother, I do not require that you agree with me :) Frank

 2011/9/3 21:32

Joined: 2005/7/20
Posts: 671
Los Angeles, California


Brother Frank,

It is Scriptural not at all doctrine of man. If you are a part of a local church your Scriptural responsibility regarding submission over church matters is

Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

The above Scripture would include total submission to church matters. Of course you would have the option to leave the church if you felt lead by God to do so. The Scripture is pretty clear - you don't have to agree with God on this matter but He doesn't leave much "wiggle room" The question is really whether we are going to submit to God and obey Scripture or not. If God says "Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves" then to me the question is much more whether I am going to submit to God rather then am I am going to submit to man regarding church matters. Sometimes we just we to change the way we look at it.

Patrick Ersig

 2011/9/3 22:47Profile

Joined: 2011/8/6
Posts: 103


it is plain and clear we are to submit to them if they are truly gods servents

that dose not mean we can not question things if we think they are wrong

but it is more then lkly we will be wrong ,and not the mature in christ ordained by the spirit to teach and preach his gosple

 2011/9/4 0:14Profile


Hi Christisking,

I appreciate that Scripture that you quoted. Consider what Matthew Henry says of this Scripture.........

2. Having thus told us the duty Christians owe to their deceased ministers, which principally consists in following their faith and not departing from it, the apostle tells us what is the duty that people owe to their living ministers (Heb_13:17) and the reasons of that duty: (1.) The duty - to obey them, and submit themselves to them. It is not an implicit obedience, or absolute submission, that is here required, but only so far as is agreeable to the mind and will of God revealed in his word; and yet it is truly obedience and submission, and that not only to God, but to the authority of the ministerial office, which is of God as certainly, in all things belonging to that office, as the authority of parents or of civil magistrates in the things within their sphere.

You will note that that brother Henry says that it is not an " implicit obedience, or absolute sumbmission."

The reason this is important, and this is the point of my comments is that only tyrants and institutions of men would ever " require," absolute or total obedience, and no where does Scripture instruct anything of the sort. Brother Paul West's points are well taken, but that, I would argue, is another issue. This call for " total submission,' in regard to " church matters,' is akin to the claim of Catholic Popes of infallability in matters of " faith and morals." To question them on this issue is to be ex-communicated. Now, if the issue is a " church matter,' and one finds the leadership to be in error, I would reject the notion that one ex-communicate himself and move on down the road.

Also, in early church history, one could not " just move on down the road." There was not, when Scripture was written, a multitude of churches and denominations as we see today. There was one local church in each town or city with one set of elders. This compelled people to actually solve their problems as opposed to falling out over the color of the carpet and " moving on down the road," and forming a new church.

One last thing to consider. Follow the path of the pilgrim church from the first century for the next 1500 years. They consistantly rejected the authority of the " leaders,' and were accused of being troublemakers and much worse of course. Whether it was non-conformists or puritans or Lutherans or Moravians or ana-baptists on any other group one would care to mention, they would all be guilty of not submitting themselves totaly to the established leadership of their day in " matters of the church."

Perhaps I am straining out a gnat here, and forgive me if I am, but Godly leadership does not have to dictate to anyone that they must render " total obedience,' to them in " matters of the church.' I believe in Godly leadership, I believe in submission, I do not believe in " total or absolute obedience," to men. ....... brother Frank

 2011/9/4 0:51

Joined: 2011/8/6
Posts: 103


hi brother wher does the bible make a distintion between
submission and absute submission

and is brother paul realy asking us to go passed what is writtern

i dont think he is

i thnik in the past when the puratin or lutherans ect did not submit ,it was because of fasle doctrine and luke warmness ,and it ws write that they didd not submit

i dont think that is a biblical example of what the scripturs are dealing with regarding this

but scripture would imply that the submission be towards one who taught sound doctrine

 2011/9/4 2:47Profile

Joined: 2011/4/6
Posts: 32
Quezon City, Philippines


It is really hard to find a fellowship today that you could agree on everything. But I don't think that; it is the perfect will of the Lord for many Christians, who doesn't have local Church and elder to submit to, to stay that way. And I think sometimes those people who, are "like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.", Are under the judgment in the same way to Cain who had been judged to become a wanderer all his life. And I do really examine myself on that because I too is in that struggle as well.

May the Lord help us on this very important area of our Christian life!

 2011/9/4 3:58Profile


Today, if you are in a house church, you can't just move on down the road. I suppose if you're not in one you can go to the church across the street or down the block but then you face a whole new set of extra biblical "rules" (in most cases) that you will have to "submit" to.

Since we keep speaking in vagueries, will someone please make a list of general items that they have experienced that "elders" want people to submit to them about?

Let me start with a few I have run into.

1. If you are a member of their church and "eat their food", you must tithe.

2. You must get involved in some ministry and abide by their rules for how the ministry is carried out.

3. You must support the Pastor's vision for this particular church.

4. If you have any personal giftings or ministry from the Lord, you must submit your ministry to them, meaning that you should not perform your ministry without it being sanctioned by them. It must become a ministry of so and so church and by submitting your ministry to them, you will then be directed by your church as to how you can carry out your ministry under their direction. (What happened to being led by the Holy Spirit?).





Can anyone add to this list? What have you been confronted with regarding submission or "total submission", because I am trying to understand in concrete ways how brothers want other brothers to submit to them?

And please, "laymen" and "clergy" are two words that should not be part of any Christian's vocabulary. We are all servants of the Most High God.

With respect,

 2011/9/4 10:03

 Re: Owning the elder; The Pyramid effect.

One thing that needs to be addressed in this discussion is the author's , [ Zac Poonen ] deeds, and de-facto doctrine about this issue. Zac Poonen is the head of his Christian organization, Church, and churches. All of the Pastors under this church, and group of churches, are directly under his rule. He owns and runs his ministry, and I would bet, upon his passing, it will be handed down to his son.

This is thus established downward, to be established within the upcoming leaders to do the same...Preach submission to the elders, who in turn press it upon the people...To keep the tithes and offerings rolling in, and the submitted elders functioning.

This in turn keeps the churches expanding, one must instill this doctrine of submission to the PASTOR. ; This all to keep the machine running smoothly. I see this as error...but not unusual, nor prohibiting the Lord to save, or act within these Churches, or organizations.

The one and only reference to a SINGULAR Pastor in the Bible is DIOTREPHES..who , according to John the Apostle...loved the Preeminence. He of course was soundly rebuked by the Apostle.

It is evident that even Paul the Apostle, the greatest of earthly shepherds, submitted to the very churches he founded. It is also evident that ALL churches had a body of Elders...equally submitted....and that those churches were independent, [ Not centrally ruled. ], Non-denominational..[ Not under a Name, which denotes a series of independent faith-statement-beliefs..]

This is standard fare in India, with multiple single leaders running many churches just like a large corporation...skimming resources for their agenda... [ I have met some, and it is ugly.] Which usually involves quite opulent lifestyles for themselves , and their lieutenants...[ IE: their Elders.] COMPARED to the INDIAN MASSES ...[ As in America, you think?]

This issue of "Reaping the benefits." as the heart-pride greed motivation] ...AS A LEADER...has been addressed by the Lord Jesus Himself, in his rebuke to the Pharisee Pastors of Judaism. It is exactly the same spirit that we face today. Read what he said to those who practiced these things...and loved the preeminence because of the BENEFITS...and in the end, it was the reason they murdered Him....because they despised getting exposed as to what they really were, and they knew, that if He kept it up, they would lose their place, and..POWER, PRIVILEDGE, & PRESTIGE.

Before the INCARNATION, He said; about leaders who love dominion;

“You who hate good and love evil,
Who tear off their skin from them
And their flesh from their bones,
3. Who eat the flesh of my people,

Strip off their skin from them,
Break their bones
And chop them up as for the pot
And as meat in a kettle.”

4 Then they will cry out to the LORD,
But He will not answer them.
Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time
Because they have practiced evil deeds. "..Micah 3.

In Revelation, Jesus also spoke, calling them Lords over my people...or NICOLAITAN..transliterated. He said that He hated their deeds. and teaching...which is directly about the singular Pastor who loves to benefit.

The Church is owned by Jesus. Without Godly, Holy, and Loving Pastors, Shepherds who love God and His more than themselves....The Church would perish...if it were possible.


 2011/9/4 10:12



I had forgotten about the fact that NT Churches were independent and not controlled centrally by a "mother" church.

You can grow quite a kingdom when you are in charge of all elders in 50 or more churches. What would that do to a man, spiritually and psychologically to be the "head cheese" as it were over all elders in all churches? I can't even imagine. As you said, there is no precedence whatsoever in the NT.


 2011/9/4 10:47

Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA

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

Wow, I wish I had more time to post more in this thread.
First, thank you brother Greg for posting the article from Poonen. Much balance and wisdom there regarding doing your part as a member of a local congregation.

What I see so far in this thread is a slight contention between those who favor traditional church settings and those who favor participatory house churches.

I see that both sides have valid points. But in all honesty it seems that those on the side of HC are misssing the spirit of the article from Poonen. But I think at least one or more persons from the traditional church setting is also missing the main thrust of the article.

What Zac is basically communicating is that if you believe that God has called you to a particular church (specifically a traditional church), you should be careful not to cause discord there even if you know things that they don't and you see a lack.

Paul West's posts were very helpful also in this matter. In non-essentials there is no need to make a fuss about how things are done. Even if you feel strongly that they are going against the Word then just leave and try to find a place where you will be comfortable enough with their doctrine and practice.

Bottomline is we need to respect one another in the Body and respect what God is doing in our lives and churches.

Those of us in a traditional church setting need to respect our brothers who are not part of a traditional church. We need to be careful not to paint a "rebellious" brush over these brothers. Many of them just want to see the dynamic of the first century church and they are grieved over how the Spirit is often quenched in our churches.
We should also be careful not to put down brothers who may not even attend a house church or any church at the moment. They may be going through a tough time in trying to find a sound enough church in their area. We should not be quick to judge them and their motives.

Those who are part of the house church movement should also be careful not to come against their brethren who are in a traditional church. Even though you don't agree with some of their traditions or church practices, that doesn't mean that they are in heresy because of that and that you should divide from them.

We need to stop this "we they" mentality regarding this issue of church settings.

Remember, in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.


 2011/9/4 16:47Profile

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