Leadership in God’s Church

By John Thiel

Our affiliation with God and his church is spoken of in Colossians.  In this scripture it speaks of our Father who has delivered us from the power of darkness.

Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

The gospel of Jesus Christ has brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son.  Did you realise that your presence has to do with subjects in a kingdom?  We look forward to going to heaven where Gods kingdom and headquarters are but it is through the gospel of Jesus Christ that we are translated into His kingdom in the present tense. The word kingdom raises many objectionable connotations in today’s mentality.  We would rather call it a democracy wouldn’t we?  But no, God’s kingdom is a monarchy. God’s government is clearly portrayed in the scripture as a monarchy.

1 Timothy 6:15 Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of Lords;

This scripture says that there is a King and only potentate and that under him there are other kings and other Lords.  That describes a monarchy doesn’t it? The monarchy method of government has been set aside in modern times.  Democracy has taken its place and democracy is now regarded as God’s order but in this text we see that God’s government is identified not as a democracy but as a kingdom.  In Revelation the earth made new is described.

Revelation 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

21:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

21:26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

This is the New Jerusalem when the earth has been replenished.  Sin has been cast out at this time and the New Jerusalem is the great metropolis, the great centre. Did you notice what takes place on the new earth?  It says that ‘the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it’. This is a pristine description of the monarchy that is going to rule in eternity; which already exists today and which exists within believing righteous people whose names are written in the lamb’s book of life.  There will be kings who will rule over nations in the lambs book of life according to this description. This is the reason for the words of Hebrews as he speaks to the spiritual nation of Israel.

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.

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.”

In God’s church there are rulers, laws and kings that need to be obeyed.  Do you know with that thought in mind there are many in positions of leadership in the church that believe they have a right to exercise the rule over others?  This is the reason for our sermon today – ‘Leadership in God’s Church’.  The aim of this sermon is to understand the monarchy of heaven both for its subjects and for its rulers so that we understand God’s form of government in leadership.  As you look at the realm of God in study nature, the cosmos, the politics of heaven, the church and earth’s government, in every realm of these studies you discover that each one is a monarchy. We have one of the realms described in the line-up of headship.

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; (Christ is the headship of man and the church) and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Here is a realm of responsibilities with headship involved.  The realm of Jesus is every individual man.  Jesus is the head of every man and the realm of God is Jesus.  According to this scripture the realm of every man is his wife and his family.  As we enter this understanding, we can trace the principle of monarchy right down to the fundamental realm of the human race. Man in himself is a realm of which he is the head.  A human being is a realm of which the human being is the king.

When Christ abides in the heart, (remember the head and King of every man is Jesus) the powers of the whole being work in unity and harmony. The whole individual person’s reason, and the affections, knowing how to act their parts, labor together unitedly. Like a king upon his throne, reason rules the working machinery.  {TDG 23.1}

Reason is to be on the throne of every human being.  The will of a human being is their kingly power.  So there is a monarchy inside every one of our bodies and the king that sits upon the throne is the reason or will. This means that individuals need to exercise the leadership of reason within their own lives. The principle of a monarchy also extends to the cellular makeup of the body.  The cells have a kingly power inside of them called a nucleus however the cells within the body are governed by a greater power called reason which is lodged in the brain. Therefore God’s principle of monarchy needs to be understood and intelligently applied in relation to all spheres of leadership.  Applying this principle, the head of every woman is the man and the man is head of the family. The family is to be governed under the jurisdiction of the man as well as the training of the mother. In order for children to develop their reasoning capabilities, they need to be trained under this principle.

How a Child Should Be Trained

The leadership of the home over the mind is that the child is to be a leader over itself.

The training of children must be conducted on a different principle from that which governs the training of irrational animals. The brute has only to be accustomed to submit to its master, but the child must be taught to control himself. The will must be trained to obey the dictates of reason and conscience. A child may be so disciplined as to have, like the beast, no will of its own, his individuality being lost in that of his teacher. Such training is unwise, and its effect disastrous. Children thus educated will be deficient in firmness and decision. They are not taught to act from principle; the reasoning powers are not strengthened by exercise (the king of that child). So far as possible, every child should be trained to self-reliance. By calling into exercise the various faculties, he will learn where he is strongest, and in what he is deficient. A wise instructor will give special attention to the development of the weaker traits, that the child may form a well-balanced, harmonious character.  {CG 39.2}

In other words the child is to develop this character.  How many children do you know today who are trained in this way?  How often do you just hear the parents say ‘You do so because I told you to’?  The problem is if the child is not trained to reason for itself it will never understand why it has been told to do something. I hear people say frequently today, ‘you can’t do anything of yourself because it is all of the Lord’ but the Spirit of Prophesy instructs us that the development of the character of a person rests with the reasoning capabilities of the child.  There is a king inside the realm of a child which he must know how to exercise.  This will enable the child to be self-reliant and to form a righteous character.

1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

What does the Apostle Paul say he has to do so that he does not lose his own eternal life?  ‘I keep under my body and bring it into subjection’.  Can you see the word subject?  The body is subject to the reasoning powers. The whole individual’s reason and the affections must work knowing how to act their parts and knowing how to act together unitedly.  They reason together as working machinery.  The faculties must know how to work and fulfil their parts in this realm of monarchy. If the Apostle Paul had not exercised self-control and kept his body under subjection, he would have been a castaway while preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. What does the Apostle Paul have to do and what do we have to do?

2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

I have to cast down every rulership that is contrary to the rulership of God, and bring into obedience every captivity.  This is the work of the king in the realm of the man. Leadership of ourselves is the lowest denominator of the governance of intelligences.  You and I are basic sovereigns over our body and our destiny.  But although leadership is the lowest denominator, it is the loftiest.  Our soul is the sovereign domain of us and it is this basic realm that must be left free to choose which other realm it will be subordinate to.  The head of every man is Christ but man must be free to choose from his own domain and from his own sovereign ground whether or not he is going to submit his ground to Jesus. In God’s monarchy there are different Lords and kings which we need to be willing to submit to.  Will I have God to be my king or Satan?

The Different Levels of Monarchy

  • Firstly when a woman chooses a husband to rule over her, (young people, always remember this when you are going into courtship) she often doesn’t stop to think about the implications of this.  Courtship is a very important period because the woman needs to discover whether or not she can submit to a certain person.  She may do so initially because she is influenced by her emotions.
  • Secondly the man must be free to choose Jesus Christ as his Lord.
  • Thirdly corporate individuals must be willing to submit to Jesus and the church.
  • Fourthly the church must be willing to submit to the leadership of her leaders.
  • Fifthly all must be willing to be under God’s general government.

Over individual and corporate realms there are monarchies of which God is the only potentate.  The word potentate is a strong word for king. What does potentate mean?  It means that God has full control.  In the light of these realities, those who are in positions of leadership and those who are subordinate to those in positions of leadership need to understand the following.  Every individual is the leadership of his own person.  All subsequent leadership is to be sensitive to individual leadership if it is Godly, in God’s system of monarchy. The leadership of every individual is his own domain and all subsequent leadership is to be sensitive of every individual person’s domain – of his personal sovereignty or soul.

Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said,

Jesus is referring here to the monarchy of the gentiles.  Notice something went wrong in those monarchies and Jesus is about to describe it here.

Matthew 20:25 Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

Isn’t that what we expect leadership to be?  Yes, in a fallen state that’s what we expect but notice what Jesus goes on to say.

Matthew 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Jesus equates this with himself.  What did the Son of man do?  He did not come to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.  Jesus was the ransom and made the down payment to release us from the kidnapping. He came not to control the kidnapper (Satan) but to pay us out of our captivity. This is different to man’s way of doing things isn’t it?  That is what Jesus was trying to explain.  He said ‘Do not function like the monarchies of the world’ and yet this is a monarchy. What is the monarchy of heaven like?  This is what we must grasp hold of.  Both the subjects and Lords in God’s church and men governing over their wives and children.

1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

5:3 Neither as being Lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

The flock as subjects in God’s realm are to find kings within her that are different to the kings of the world.  They are to leaders by example not by Lordship.  Just as it is in the home, so it is in the church.  Do you remember what was written in the book Child Training?  It said that we are not to treat the children forcefully and control them in the same way that a king controls the people of the world.  Nor are children to be controlled or trained like animals.  The true government of parental control is based on the same principle of every other realm of God’s monarchy which is to exercise the kingly power of the realm of God.  Kingly training in the home is particularly important for the father to do if he is going to conduct himself correctly in the church.

1 Timothy 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

That sounds like forceful control but it is not if we do it God’s way.

1 Timothy 3:5 For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?

This is government unlike the world and one in which we are not always governed by in the way that we want. In light of what we have been studying we read that it is important to know how to rule in the home so that it is according to God’s rulership.  If this is done correctly then we will be able to rule properly in the church.

Do you like people telling you what you should do?  Under normal circumstances your kingly power would grate under this.  Nobody likes to be told what they should do so why do we do we do it to each other and why do we do it to our children? This type of control will bring forth an insubordination because we are crossing into the domain of a child or a youth and their kingly power. Observe the following quote which emphasises that great care needs to be taken in this exercise of God’s rulership.

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}

It’s like a death struggle for some people in the church to submit their will to this type of leadership and this needs to be remembered in God’s government. Such methods of control could even make some individuals rebel against that kind of leadership. Jesus has counseled us not be like the fallen monarchies and nor are we to exercise their fallen practices in our homes.  Jesus said ‘don’t do it like the gentiles, do it the way I have done it.’ When we follow Christ’s example, the kingly power of the human mind will be able to discern what is really required when we are instructed by another in the church.  We will put the best construction on it and not think ‘I’m not going to be told by you what to do.;  As a leader in God’s church or a person in position we will take hold of what Jesus did by his own example.

What Leadership Should Not Be

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. {TDG 192.2}

We must never feel that because we are chosen as a deacon or a president that we can then Lord it over those who are subjects in our domain.

There should not be among Christians a spirit which makes some patrons and some proteges. (Protégé is another word for mentor) 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}

Lording our authority over people is not God’s way of government.  The commandments of God forbid this because – “all ye are brethren.” The man is not to think that he is the owner of the minds and capabilities of his brethren.  We must not tell other people what they should be doing because when we do this we are in effect trying to own another person’s mind.

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}

None of this work bears the signature of Heaven. Christians should reveal the tenderness of Christ, and this they will do if Christ abides in the heart. They will recognize Christ in their brethren. They will take sweet counsel together. If the dark chapters of human history were traced out according to the truth, how much would be flattering to those who exercise so much authority, who feel competent to say that others shall do as they dictate.  {TDG 192.4}

If Christ is head of the man, the man will demonstrate Christ’s leadership with the brethren and they will take sweet council together. There is a difference between ‘I am counselling you’ or ‘let’s council together.’ We can only see reason together through sweet council.

Jesus has given us an example in His life of purity and perfect holiness. The most exalted being in heaven, He was the most ready to serve. The most honored, He humbled Himself to minister to those who a short time before had been disputing as to who should be the greatest in His kingdom.  {TDG 192.5}

Who needs to tell a child what it is to be doing?  According to the book Child Guidance the child’s own reason tells him what to do and not another person. A person in leadership is not to think that others must submit to his dictation because he is liable to err and make mistakes just as everyone does.

No Patronizing

We are not to go to someone else and say ‘I really don’t think you should be doing that.’

It can gain no advantage by robbing the members of the family of God of their individuality or of their rights.  All such practices are abhorrent to God . . . . {ChL 31.1}

The high-handed power that has been developed, as though positions had made men gods, makes me afraid, and ought to cause fear.  It is a curse wherever, and by whomsoever it is exercised.  This Lording it over God’s heritage will create such a disgust of man’s jurisdiction that a state of insubordination will result.  The people are learning that men in high positions of responsibility cannot be trusted to mold and fashion other men’s minds and characters.  The result will be a loss of confidence even in the management of faithful men . . . .  {ChL 31.2}

The spirit of domination is extending to the presidents of our conferences.  If a man is sanguine. {ChL 31.3}

This is a term used for a person who is conscious of their own power in a position of leadership and who exercises dominion over another person’s frail mind instead of exercising the other person to use the king or reason in their own mind.

…of his own powers and seeks to exercise dominion over his brethren, feeling that he is invested with authority to make his will the ruling power, the best and only safe course is to remove him, lest great harm be done, and he lose his own soul, and imperil the souls of others.  “All ye are brethren.” {ChL 31.3}

This disposition to Lord it over God’s heritage will cause a reaction unless these men change their course.  Those in authority should manifest the spirit of Christ.  They should deal as he would deal with every case that requires attention.  They should go weighted with the Holy Spirit.  A man’s position does not make him one jot or tittle greater in the sight of God; it is character alone that God values.–Letter 55, 1895 (Sept. 19, 1895 to O. A. Olsen). {ChL 31.4}

Never patronize another person because it is abhorrent to God. Every individual has a sovereign right over his own person and in all our relationships there are borders.  This concept is even extended to countries.  For instance, Australia is a country with national and state borders which it uses to control the flow of immigration.  We all have a sovereign dominion in our soul.  We have borders which we cannot cross without encroaching upon another person’s sovereign space.  No one has the right to do this except the Holy Spirit and even then the Holy Spirit waits for a personal invitation. If we invite the Holy Spirit in as individuals, parents or leaders and submit to God’s form of monarchical leadership, we will exercise the reasoning powers of each individual within the church so as to prompt their free will choices.  Using God’s method of government, people will voluntarily choose to submit for themselves. We don’t need to quash a child to control it or stop it from doing something.  We need to be courteous to that individual to develop and prompt their own reasoning capabilities.  This will enable the child to makes its own free will choice to submit to that authority so that individuals in the church will willingly choose to be subjects in God’s kingdom. Willing subjects are those that draw their own conclusions and that can intelligently say this is my choice.  But in saying this, it is still possible that some will not be subordinate to God’s method of government and will leave the church.  This is because God does not rule by force like the devil. If you have a home and a family, even if you have ruled over your family correctly, it is still possible that the children will disobey when they get older. But if any reject the truth or are rebellious, is that the failure of God’s leadership?

But if the truth is presented as it is in Jesus, the hearers are responsible for its rejection.  {RH, July 2, 1895 par. 2}

The Lord showed me this when I was proclaiming the Word many years ago.  The people were really hacking around on me and the Lord came close and told me that ‘you are only going to save your own soul by doing it my way and by preaching what I want you to preach’.  ‘If the people rebel, their blood is not on your garment, just keep doing what I tell you to do’. Yes we are going to lose members, children, wives and husbands who do not by their own choice submit to God’s government.  Don’t think you have failed if you have decided to embrace God’s form of government because it is only the people who willingly submit to it by their own choice that will live amongst Him. May God grant us to be among them.

Amen.

Posted on April 23, 2010, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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