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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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Joined: 2011/8/20
Posts: 1777


Every Church is an individual body of Christ. So when I referred as our body it means the body of Christ that we are constructing.
By commitment what I meant is whether they are coming to our Church regularly and then whether they agree with our belief. I am not an elder and I have been part of a CFC based Church only for 2 years. From what I understand in our Church the elders meet new comers whom they find coming regularly to Church and discuss their faith and commitment before involving them in holy communion. This means they become part of our body and share our burden.
Based on what God spoke to me when I read 1st Corinthian 12. The Gifts are given only to people who are part of a body and if you are not part of a body of Christ and if you do not share the burden of other members like how every part in human body does then you cannot expect any spiritual gifts. So it is important for everyone to be a part of a body of Christ instead of living alone without submitting to a Church.


 2011/9/7 12:42Profile


Thank you for your answer, Sree.

We don't have any test for committment to US in our fellowship. Some people cannot come regularly and we are just happy to see them when they can come. Their giftings still work and are acknowledged as long as they are dwelling in peace with their brethren.


 2011/9/7 14:42

Joined: 2011/8/20
Posts: 1777


yes God will never take away the gifts he gives to people. These gifts were intended for people to build the body of Christ but when they move out of the body or do not show the commitment that they once showed to receive the gifts then God will not take it back. Again this is my personal understand of 1 Corinthians 12.
So God always intended us to be in fellowship with one another. The importance of being part of a local Church cannot be taken away.
If your fellowship elders decide to take decisions in discussing with every member then it is good and it is their personal understanding and belief. If they want to take it alone and then announce it to Church then it is also fine. In all case as a member of the fellowship one should submit to the authority of their elders. What your elders are following cannot be set as a standard because it depends on the maturity of the Church fellow members. If the members are infants in Christ then it is better for the mature elders to take the decision.


 2011/9/7 14:58Profile


Harold Camping comes to mind - for just one of thousands who claim to be "called to leadership". How about the 'prophets' of the NAR group? We could go on and on about who are the 'truly called' and what does that entail.
What are the signs that one is truly called to leadership of Any kind?
In these days of Television, radio, internet, mass-mailings, ANYONE can call themselves "called to lead".
It's a dangerous world out there and the call for caution is always Biblical.
Anybody under the sun can start a ministry in these days and demand obedience to themselves - but only The Spirit of GOD and His Word can discern 'who' called them. As human nature would have it - many desire leadership but few servanthood. Many 'covet' positions of controlling others - but GOD calls those who normally fight against any such calling, feeling unworthy to lead - whether they be a pastor, teacher, prophet or a 'leader' of any sort.

I was just reminded - What did Jesus mean here? ...

If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than He that sent him.

John 13:14-16

Found some good commentaries on this section in e-sword.

"Go and do likewise"

 2011/9/7 15:50

Joined: 2011/5/5
Posts: 112


Even if you are "truly called", you are a servant and the last time I checked, no one submits to servants. We always submit to God. This word of submission is a word regarding mutual agreement and unity and peace. Not a word that connotes a servant to a king. See what Jesus says, below.

Mar 10:42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

Mar 10:43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:

Mar 10:44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

Mar 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Psa 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (This does not say, how good and how pleasant it is for all the brethren to give total submission to our "great one".

Jesus used "great one", and that is why I used it.


 2011/9/7 16:14Profile

Joined: 2010/9/22
Posts: 72


Christ alone is head.

I submit to the Lord in any brother.

If I am strong in the Lord I can submit to the weak to give them strength in the Lord.

Who knows I might be the weak one the very next day and need that brother the way he needed me.

Real leadership is the CROSS OF JESUS never mens ideas for your life.

 2011/9/7 21:57Profile


And so, the question remains, and to a great degree, remains unanswered by the replies so far, is " total submission,' to men a Scriptural truth? If it is Scriptural, should we not, in our replies, give the Scriptures and why we believe that it teaches " total submission." Lets take the men out of the replies, and how we know them and like them. I know and like many men with whom I totaly disagree with. I trust them as men and they have integrity, but what has that do do with the very narrow question of " total submission to men,' in whatever capacity it is, essential or non-essential. But I am sure that we all agree that teaching is based solely upon the Word of God and how that speaks to any issue, no matter who is teaching it.

In that vein, the Scripture that was quoted to me in an earlier post was Heb 13:17. I gave a quote by Matthew Henry who clearly stated that this Scripture in no way implied "total submission." Let me just give you an opinion from another.........

Ray C. Stedman wrote the following in his commentary on Hebrews:

Several things should be noted about Hebrews 13:17 and 1Thess 5:12. The word “obey” comes from the Greek peitho, “to persuade.” The present imperative middle form, used here, means “permit oneself to be persuaded,” “yield to persuasion.” It definitely does not mean to blindly follow orders. The phrase those who are over you in the Lord should simply be “your leaders in the Lord.” There is no thought of being “over” anyone, or others being “under” a leader. The authority of a Christian leader is not command authority but servant leadership. A servant has authority, as Jesus said he had, because he awakens by his loving service a desire to comply. Or he is persuasive because of his logic or knowledge."

When you consider the the measning of the word obey in the context of this Scripture, is it not a beautiful thing. To " permit oneself to be persuaded," or " yield to persausion." These are phrases of the Spirit, this comes under the shadow of " mutual submission." A man who is full of the Holy Spirit will always be open to being questioned and considering what one has to say. Consider Peter when he was confronted by Paul. Did he get upset and make accusations toward Paul? No, he called a council.And why did he call a council? Because.....
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. (prov 11:14)

This used to be known as a " teachable spirit.' If we have a man or a group of men who cannot, ever, be questioned or challenged and the only solution is to " move on down the road,' what does that say about a " teachable spirit.' If the leaders in a church do not have such a spirit, then how can we suppose that it is taught to others? To be open to persausion is a beautiful humble thing.

There are multiple occurances of the word " obey,' in the NT. The most common word, is " hupakouo," meaning to be subordinate, to conform to command and authority. Here is where you will find it..............

Mat 8:27 ...Winds and seas " obey,' Jesus
Mark 1:27... Unclean spirits " obey,' Jesus
Mark 4:41 winds and sea obey Jesus
Luke 8:25..Winds and sea obey Jesus
Luke 17:6.. a tree plucked up and tossed into the sea
Rom 6:12 ... Must not be under the command or authority of sin
Rom 6:16... Same as above
Eph 6:1.....Children must obey parents
Col 3:20...same as above
Col 3:22....servants must obey masters
2Thes 1:8...Must obey the Gospel
2Thes 3:14..The Word of God
Heb 5:9......God

Brothers and sisters, the same word could have been used by the Holy Spirit in Heb 13:17 but it was Frank

 2011/9/8 0:59

 Owning the elder: "The Pryamid effect"..Who is lord?

"Brothertom said in "Owning the elder:The Pryamid 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.of our

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."....Brothertom

Zac Poonen said;"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 Poonen

El Bethel said:" What if your presumption about the author Zac is wrong? Have you ever considered the possibility that perhaps your judgement about him could be wrong? If he is like one of those preachers who scream for money or longs for fame rather than the glory of God, you MAY BE justified in your saying. If it is not so, I really pity you.".. El Bethel

Evidently I am not wrong..except I do not know if his son will inherit the ministry..and to that I said "I bet". I am not judging the man, but the fruit of his deeds, and his words.I also noted that the Lord could save, or act in these situations...and He can.

Appolus said; quite eloquently; "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." Frank

In my opinion, this system is classic Nicolaitanism..where men become the rulers over God's heritage rather than God. Church matters are Faith matters, which is at the core of our being, as we are designed as the human.

Then, the meetings become all about the man, the teaching, the pews, and free body life vanishes. Of course, the blessing is touted among the community as to "our holy and right orthodoxy"...but in the end, as I have witnessed, the Holy part morphs into legalism, and more often than not, the One Man Show.

It is the trickle downward, and condemned by the lord. It brings division, and does much hurt, especially, as Frank bravely stated, to those who will not be in total submission to the elders. They usually are assassinated in character, or, as Frank said, martyred.

 2011/9/8 4:09

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


Brothers, let’s remember that Zac Poonen is a man who makes mistakes like all of us. So he may not have used the best wording to communicate his message. But how about giving him a break. From his life and ministry he seems to be a great brother in the Lord whom God has gifted in the Word to bless the Body. I understand we should not put him in too high a pedestal, but we should appreciate how the Lord uses him to bless the Body with sound teaching.

In all honesty I don't fully agree with pastors/elders exercising such “absolute authority” in all important decisions regarding "church matters", without willingness or eagerness to hear out other members who are not pastors/elders. In the book of Acts we see that “all” the church was involved in the decision-making process even regarding non-essential or non-doctrinal matters(example: Acts 6:5). But I understand that the vast majority of churches do not operate that way. And I’m not gonna let that disagreement on church government keep me from fellowshipping in a healthy body of believers in my area. Again, I thought the article was very helpful in giving guidance to believers like me who disagree with certain church policies in the churches we may attend. I know chances are I’m never going to find any church where I can fully agree on everything taught or practiced.

The saying goes, “if you ever find a perfect church make sure you don’t join it because you will ruin it”, or something like that:)


 2011/9/8 16:12Profile


My, my, my, I did not think this thread was still going.

I thought Appolus' latest reply was very good. Ray Stedman is right. And even if I don't know greek, the Holy Spirit communicates to me that it is persuasion and not submission. The Bereans did not submit to Paul, otherwise they would not have questioned him. They respected him and searched the scriptures so they could be persuaded.

The Bereans received the Word with gladness and I am sure they "wanted" to be persuaded, since afterall, it was Paul the Apostle that was teaching them. Yes, they very much wanted to be persuaded, but first, they had to check the Lord's Word.

I also want to be persuaded by brethren in Christ and that is what this website is all about. Persuade me brethren!!

Regarding this subject, I am persuaded that we do not exercise lordship over each other. I am persuaded that we all are to be totally submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am persuaded that we should all contend for the faith together. I am persuaded that we do not follow any man's vision or support any man's vision. I am persuaded that we follow and support the Lord's vision and He implants this in men's hearts. I am persuaded that if we were all to look to the Lord, we would recognize those that are mature and to be respected as the Bereans respected Paul, yet not so much that they gave him total submission. That was reserved for the Lord and the Bereans are a wonderful example that God placed in the Word for us. I am persuaded as we look to the Lord we will recognize the traditions and teachings of man that nullify the Word of God. And I am persuaded by much more, but this will do for now. I am persuaded that Godly, mature brothers can offer Godly, mature counsel. I have one Father and that is God, I call no man teacher or rabbi (pastor) according to the Lord's command. He was telling us to call no man by a religious title. I call no man by a religious title. I call my brothers by their name or by brother. That is what they are. They are my brothers. We are all brothers. The most mature brothers will only want to be called a brother.

A brother that thinks he has special status will want to be called something else than brother or than by his name.

The Lord is tired of the Nicolaitan spirit because it puts men between him and his children.

Men's kingdoms are all coming down to a crashing halt.

This should not be about Zac. Zac's article was only the grist for conversation about total submission, or any kind of submission to man. This conversation should not be about Zac.


 2011/9/8 16:52

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