Obey Them That Have the Rule Over You

By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Inspiration shows us that this scripture has a very wide scope of meaning.

Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God. It also enjoins respect for ministers and rulers and for all others to whom God has delegated authority. {PP 308.2}

This, says the apostle, “is the first commandment with promise.” Ephesians 6:2. To Israel, expecting soon to enter Canaan, it was a pledge to the obedient, of long life in that good land; but it has a wider meaning, including all the Israel of God, and promising eternal life upon the earth when it shall be freed from the curse of sin. {PP 308.3}

Obedience to this commandment is to be given to all whom God has delegated authority. This obedience will provide eternal life to us. This is the wide-ranging principle of this commandment. Our focus is the aspect of our submission to ministers and those in authority over us.

Hebrews 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.

Because My Church Says So!

It is my desire we come to understand this Scripture. This Scripture is referring to those who are watching for our souls in Gods church.  In the Catholic Church as in all successive denominations, members were expected to render obedience to the popes, bishops and pastors. Even today it is asked if you do something in your faith, why do you do this and why don’t you do that? Does your church tell you what to do? Are you not allowed to do it because your church says so? This is the mentality of Christians today.

The Scripture Used by Catholics

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

This is the scriptural authority that is used by the Catholic Church that it has the keys and what the Catholic Church binds on earth, will be bound in heaven. Or that which the Catholic Church releases on earth will be released in heaven. This scripture is the basis of the Catholic Church. That is why the popes are the father on earth. What is done on earth, is done in heaven. The Scriptures we have used so far, obey those that have the rule over you, even the statement in Patriarchs and Prophets – obey the church leaders, fills you with a thought that we have to do as they tell us.

Implicit Obedience

Disobey them, and you are rebelling against God. Doesn’t it appear like that in those Scriptures? For this reason in the dark ages priests interpreted the bible for the people. Whatever the priests taught they took as amen and yay from God. Are we to do the same? It says so. Whatever is bound on earth will be bound in heaven. That is the way it appears. That is the perception we receive from these Scriptures. The question is what does God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit mean with these statements? The original texts that launched us out are the key that throws light upon the meaning of these directions.  It is quoted by Sr White under inspiration the commandment children obey your parents.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Here there is something important which is in the commandment. This is the first commandment for the human race, the others were towards God. Obey your parents in the Lord, is this a qualification? Obey Jesus, obey the father – first? Obey the parents in the Lord and obey in the leaders of the church in the Lord?

Luke 14:26 If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Honour your father and your mother. He who does not hate his father and mother –  can you see something here? What does hate mean there in the margin? Hate not by comparison.

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Honour your father rand your mother, in the Lord. If you have your parents over me, you are not worthy of me. If you obey anybody I have commanded you to obey but it means you’re going to disregard me, then you are not worthy of me. Did Jesus cancel out the commandment by these Words? Not at all.  He said obey your parents in the Lord. The parents that are themselves obedient to the commandments of God, they are the ones you obey who obey God.

Compare the Church with Jesus Christ

Titus 2:4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed.

Wives are to be obedient to their husbands. Here is another one that falls under the category, obey them that have the rule over you. Wives are to be obedient to them that have the rule.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.

Can you see a parallel? Obedience of the wife to the husband has to do with the church and her obedience to Jesus Christ. Now we see something very interesting. The wife is to obey her husband as the church obeys her Lord.

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

What does that mean? The obedience of an adult to another adult is subject as it is fit in the Lord. This is a simular statement to children obeying the parents. But it is distinct that the is wife to obey her husband in the Lord.

The question is often asked, “Shall a wife have no will of her own?” The Bible plainly states that the husband is the head of the family. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.” If this injunction ended here, we might say that the position of the wife is not an enviable one; it is a very hard and trying position in very many cases, and it would be better were there fewer marriages. Many husbands stop at the Words, “Wives, submit yourselves,” but we will read the conclusion of the same injunction, which is. “As it is fit in the Lord.” {AH 115.3}

God requires that the wife shall keep the fear and glory of God ever before her. Entire submission is to be made only to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has purchased her as His own child by the infinite price of His life. God has given her a conscience, which she cannot violate with impunity. Her individuality cannot be merged into that of her husband, for she is the purchase of Christ. It is a mistake to imagine that with blind devotion she is to do exactly as her husband says in all things, when she knows that in so doing, injury would be worked for her body and her spirit, which have been ransomed from the slavery of Satan. There is One who stands higher than the husband to the wife; it is her Redeemer, and her submission to her husband is to be rendered as God has directed–“as it is fit in the Lord.” {AH 116.1}

The Lord Jesus has not been correctly represented in His relation to the church by many husbands in their relation to their wives, for they do not keep the way of the Lord. They declare that their wives must be subject to them in everything. But it was not the design of God that the husband should have control, as head of the house, when he himself does not submit to Christ.. . . {AH 117.1}

Are you beginning to visualise the understanding here? The broad meaning of children obeying their parents has been extended to church members obeying their minister and those that have authority over them. While they are to obey it is to be obedience in reference to God and through God to their leaders and the leaders to God. The wife/husband relationship parallels to the church/Christ relation. Those who are under shepherds are to be obeyed as the wife obeys the husband and as the church obeys the Lord.  Here we read something very important to get in clear in our submission to church leaders.

Submission to Church Leaders

“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18). When every specification which Christ has given has been carried out in the true, Christian spirit, then, and then only, Heaven ratifies the decision of the church, because its members have the mind of Christ, and do as He would do were He upon the earth.–Letter 1c, 1890. {3SM 22.1}

Here is a qualification. What is bound on earth, is that which God has bound already. Every specification which Christ has given and carried out. That is bound in heaven. What God has instructed.

Whatever the church does which is in accordance with the directions given in God’s Word will be ratified in heaven. {7T 263.3}

We obey leaders that follow the instruction as is given in Gods Word. Whatever the church does that is in accordance with the directions as given in Gods church, that only will be ratified in heaven. Hence the Words of Christ, counselling the ministers and leaders of his church.

Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them [unto him], and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Very important Words of Jesus to those who are in position of authority in the church. What are they to do? What are they not to do? They are not to exact obedience. Not like the princes of the gentiles that exercise authority on them. No, it shall not be so among you. Whoever is greater among you is to be your minister so that in the position of authority that the ministers and the priest’s. They are to minister to the people the Word of God. Which itself has the authority. Every member of the church obeys God by obeying the ministry of the Word. The ministers and the leaders of the church have no other authority but the authority that the Word itself commands, that’s all. They cannot take over the minds of the members of the church. In fact, how is the instruction in Gods inspiration and the Spirit of Prophecy in reference to this?

There is danger that ministers, that presidents of conferences, will take too much upon themselves and manifest too little confidence in the people. The people should be educated in such a way that they will search the Scriptures for themselves. The Holy Spirit is to work to mould every man after the similitude of Christ. Men have made a great mistake in not considering that God works through His church. Ministers should give ample encouragement to the individual members of the church and to those whom God shall select to do a special work in maturing thoughtful plans for the saving of the souls of those who are in error. {9MR 146.2}

Everyone is to have his or her own conscious just as the wife is to have her own conscious. The minsters are to be subject to the church as the church is to be subject to the ministers. The members need knowledge of Gods will so that he ministers can call on them to obey Gods will. Here is what the ministers are to be;

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

What I’m sharing with you, is the doctrine of authority in the church. Anything that contravenes that doctrine makes the problem a doctrinal problem. It is the doctrine of Jesus Christ that we are to be obedient to those who have the authority over us as it is fit in the Lord. That is the issue. That which the leaders require of the members must be seen by them to be Gods Word.

Whatever the leaders expect of the members, the members must be able to see that it is Gods Word otherwise they are going to do exactly the same as the people in the dark ages, if the ministers said so then it must be so.

Anything that is required by the leadership of the church, the leadership must require a thus saith the Lord, show me please. What you expect me to do, show me. Where is it written in Gods Word? No creeds, no requirements established that fail to be a requirement of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy needs to be obeyed.

But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority–not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord” in its support. {GC 595.1}

If the ecclesiastical counsels, even in the majority decision of a General Conference in session, if that does not agree with the Word of God it is not to be regards as the voice of God. Only if its directions are in harmony of the Word of God.

There should not be among Christians a spirit, which makes some patrons and some proteges. The commandments of God forbid this. “All ye are brethren” (Matt. 23:8). No man is to think that he is the owner of the minds and capabilities of his brethren. He is not to think that others must submit to his dictation. He is liable to err, liable to make mistakes, as every man is. He is not to try to control matters in accordance with his ideas. {TDG 192.2}

He who yields to this spirit of self-exaltation places himself under the control of the enemy. If ministers of the gospel cannot harmonise with all his ideas and imaginings, he turns from them and speaks against them, pouring out the sarcasm and bitterness in his heart upon ministers and ministry. {TDG 192.3}

If those that are leaders over us expect us to obey them as Gods command, if they do not do this, like a husband with a wife, then the commandments of God are contravened. The question is obedience to the commandments of God and the doctrine. If the doctrine is not carried out then Gods people have a right to obey God rather than man. Ministers who do not place confidence in the people, what do they do? They dictate to the people. They are making their own minds, rulers over the minds of others. They regard the minds of the members their ownership.

No man is to think that he is the owner of the minds and capabilities of his brethren. He is not to think that others must submit to his dictation. He is liable to err, liable to make mistakes, as every man is. He is not to try to control matters in accordance with his ideas. {TDG 192.2}

There is a brother has capabilities, now I’m going to tell him where he is going to work. That is taking control of a mans capabilities. Whereas the Spirit of Prophecy says a mans capabilities are answerable to God.  God’s people should counsel together and find Gods voice through the counselling with people. A leader is not to think that

There is coming in among us a spirit which God will not suffer to rule. Never should Christians feel that they are Lords over God’s heritage. There should not be among Christians a spirit which makes some patrons and some proteges. The commandments of God forbid this. “All ye are brethren” (Matt. 23:8). No man is to think that he is the owner of the minds and capabilities of his brethren. He is not to think that others must submit to his dictation. He is liable to err, liable to make mistakes, as every man is. He is not to try to control matters in accordance with his ideas. {TDG 192.2}

He who yields to this spirit of self-exaltation places himself under the control of the enemy. If ministers of the gospel cannot harmonize with all his ideas and imaginings, he turns from them and speaks against them, pouring out the sarcasm and bitterness in his heart upon ministers and ministry. {TDG 192.3}

We are then to obey our brethren in the leadership, as it is fit in the Lord.

Hebrews 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.

Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation.

We are to follow the Word of God that the ministers are relying on. That is what we are to follow. Every Word that proceeds out of God’s mouth is to be proclaimed out of those that have the rule over us. As Jesus gave his life for the flock, these ministers will give their life for the flock by going the extra mile for the members to understand Gods will. This is why we are to respect and obey them as this is what they do.

The Lord Jesus Christ has infinite tenderness for those whom he has purchased at the cost of his own sufferings in the flesh, that they should not perish with the devil and his angels, but that he may claim them as his chosen ones. They are the claim of his love, of his own property; and he looks upon them with unutterable affection, and the fragrance of his own righteousness he gives to his loved ones who believe in him. It requires tact and wisdom and human love, and sanctified affection for the precious lambs of the flock, to lead them to see and appreciate their privilege in yielding themselves up to the tender guidance of the faithful shepherds. The children of God will exercise the gentleness of Jesus Christ. {CE 146.1}

Those who are the shepherds of the flock, the people in authority over the flock, must help the members who are to obey them to see that they can obey them because of the love, the human wisdom, the tact and sanctified affection that the people can see.

His impressive parable of the good shepherd represents the responsibility of every minister and of every Christian who has accepted a position as teacher of children and youth and a teacher of old and young, in opening to them the Scriptures. If one strays from the fold, he is not followed with harsh Words and with a whip, but with winning invitations to return. Those in official positions, in their association with others, should make it as easy as possible for those under their charge to take heed to the direction of God’s Word, to obey those that have the rule over them. It is always right to remember that all minds are not constituted alike, and it is like a death struggle for some to surrender their wills in submission to those who are placed over them. {BEcho, December 9, 1901 par. 8}

The real work of leadership in Gods church is much harder than telling the church what to do. It is just like a parent teaching its child. It’s easier to command quickly what is required.  Fathers provoke not your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. To command our children after us and to help them become intelligent entities of their own, it is much harder to command them to obey. In the church it is no different. As we face leadership government in Gods church, we must understand these points. Re-iterate them in your mind. Look for a thus saith the Lord and then obey those who will rule over us.

Amen.

 

Posted on September 6, 2009, in Prayer Meeting Sermonettes, Sermons by John Thiel, The Church of God and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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