Who are your Leaders

 

Having already addressed the first part of a difficult, and sometimes abused passage, from Hebrews 13:17 (see the post Obey or Be Persuaded), we need to examine the meaning of the second half of the verse, “obey your leaders and submit to them….” However, before proceeding into the translation and meaning of submit, it would do us well to review what our Lord had to say regarding leadership during His earthly ministry.  Whatever else the New Testament says regarding “church leaders” must flow downstream from the kingdom paradigm that Jesus established.

Below are  two critical passages concerning the nature of leadership, according to the kingdom paradigm of Jesus Christ.  Notice how He dismantles the present religious leadership and then rebuilds with kingdom principles.

First is Matthew 20:20-28

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?”They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Second is Matthew 23:1-12

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

How do these passages inform the nature of leadership in our modern churches?

Is a leader a servant or is a servant a leader?

Are those in “offices” or who bear titles, pastor, elder, shepherd, bishop, deacon, de facto leaders because of their position?

What is the nature of authority among believers?

Is their a hierarchical leadership or authority structure among believers?

Before one can build a framework for leadership based on such passages as 1 Timothy 3 or Titus 1, or even difficult passages such as Hebrews 13:17, we must come to an understanding of the kingdom leadership principles that Jesus laid out which were counter-cultural and counter man-centered religiosity.  The difficulty, and it is real, is to view these passages without the influence of culture or our own religious experiences and preferences.

 

Social Injustice and the Gospel

 

John MacArthur, blogging recently on the disastrous, unbiblical social justice “obsession” that is spreading like wildfire through what was once known as evangelicalism, particularly those of the Reformed persuasion.

“The evangelicals who are saying the most and talking the loudest these days about what’s referred to as “social justice” seem to have a very different perspective. Their rhetoric certainly points a different direction, demanding repentance and reparations from one ethnic group for the sins of its ancestors against another. It’s the language of law, not gospel—and worse, it mirrors the jargon of worldly politics, not the message of Christ. It is a startling irony that believers from different ethnic groups, now one in Christ, have chosen to divide over ethnicity. They have a true spiritual unity in Christ, which they seem to disdain in favor of fleshly factions.

Evangelicalism’s newfound obsession with the notion of “social justice” is a significant shift—and I’m convinced it’s a shift that is moving many people (including some key evangelical leaders) off message, and onto a trajectory that many other movements and denominations have taken before, always with spiritually disastrous results.”

You can read the entire article at the link below and his upcoming series on the issue will most likely be must-read.

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180813

 

How to Awake with God

 

“In the instant of awaking let your heart be lifted up to God with a thankful acknowledgement of his mercy to you.  For it is he that giveth his beloved sleep, Psa. cxxvii. 2 (127:2); who keepeth you both in soul and body while you sleep, Prov. vi.22; who reneweth his mercies every morning, Lam iii.22,23.  For, while you sleep, you are as it were out of actual possession of yourself, and all things else.  Now, it was God that kept you and all that you had, and restored them again, with many new mercies, when you awakened.

Arise early in the morning (if you be not necessarily hindered) following the example of our Saviour Christ, John viii. 2, and of the good matron in the Proverbs, Prov. xxxi. 15.  For this will usually conduce to the health of your body, and the prosperity, both of your temporal and spiritual state; for hereby you will have the day before you, and will gain the best, and the fittest times for the exercises of religion, and for the works of your calling.

In the time between your awakening and arising (if other suitable thoughts offer not themselves) it will be useful to think upon some of these: I must awake from the sleep of sin, to righteousness, Eph. v. 14 1 Cor. xv. 34; as well as out of bodily sleep, unto labour in my calling.  The night is far spent, the day is  at hand, I must therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light, Rom. xiii. 11, 12, 13.  I must walk honestly as in the day.  I am, but the light of grace and knowledge, to arise and walk in it, as well as by the light of the sun to walk by it.  Think also of your awaking out of the sleep of death, and out of the grave, 1 Cor. xv. 55; at the sound of the last trumpet, 1 Thess. iv. 16; even of your blessed resurrection unto glory, at the last day.  It was one of David’s sweet thoughts (speaking to God) When I awake, I shall be satisfied with thy likeness, Psa. xvii. 15.

  • Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk, pg. 29-30

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"