“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” – Heb 13:17
The same word “obey” is used in John 3:36. Some Christians are misled and are opposed to the notion of being obedient to the Elders in the Church. They would dilute the office of Bishop and allow that the Shepherds are examples only and have no authority over the church. But what about that word “obey”? It’s more than “be persuaded” or “follow their example”. It has the idea of obedience, something beyond merely believing. The NASB says, 36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” So don’t just believe what Jesus says, as John 3:16 says, but follow through and actually obey Him or else you won’t have eternal life.
First then, the language in Hebrews 13 is clear on it’s face. It says “obey” and “submit” and let them do their work “with joy” or, and this is a warning, “this would be unprofitable for you”. Unprofitable means hurtful or harmful. Now do we want to hurt ourselves by not submitting to the Shepherds who are given oversight? I don’t think so.
Second, since the Elders are going to give an account to God for the Sheep, how unfair would it be to them if God never told the Sheep to obey what the godly Shepherds are saying? A position of responsibility without authority doesn’t exist except among fools – and God is no fool. When you have godly Elders, this opposition to their Leadership doesn’t exist. But we live in a culture that’s been raised to disrespect all authority, beginning with parents, then teachers, policemen, Elders, and even to God.
This “oppositional defiant disorder” (ODD) against the Presbytery (see 1 Tim 4:14), which I have been seeing for some time, has no place in the church of our Lord. Respectfully yours, Dan
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