Chapter 3, Part 2 of “COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE” by Peter Whyte
AUTHORITY AND SUBMISSION IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Leaders in the Body of Christ need to understand that Paul’s teachings on submission are not injunctions to leaders to exercise authority over those they care for in their fellowships.
From the viewpoint of our natural mind, it appears unrealistic to place one in a position of authority, and then tell him that he may not exercise authority over those he leads. However, we are not to consider things from the viewpoint of the natural mind, which is the viewpoint of the world, but we must learn to see things with a renewed mind, the mind of Christ.
Jesus Christ, the Lord of all creation, is our perfect example of Kingdom authority. He never exercises it over His disciples. He sets examples and gives commands, but never enforces our submission. More than that, He does not cry, rage, sulk or reject us when we fail to obey Him. His love and grace toward us is totally unaffected by our lack of submission to Him. Jesus always waits for our voluntary submission, which is the only valid form of submission in His Kingdom. Our desire to obey Him, which is the only measure of our love for Him, must come from the laying down of our own wilfulness, without any coercion from Him, or He does not want it.
This is the nature of authority and submission in the Kingdom of God. We should only submit our lives to authority or leadership in the Body of Christ that demonstrates the nature of Christ. True spiritual authority that demonstrates the mind of Christ. It is not a title like “Reverend, Pastor, Elder, Evangelist, Prophet or Apostle which has been bestowed by other men operating in Babylon. Neither is it precluded because a leader has been born and raised in Babylon.
Men and women to whom God has given HIS authority are not known by their titles, offices, intellectual ability or even their Bible knowledge. They are to be recognized by their humility and servant hearts.
A pastor formed by God is kind and merciful and does not seek his own way. He will not be concerned about your non attendance at meetings, to “support” his preaching, or whether you agree with all his theology. His main concern will be the conduct of your daily life, your heart attitudes and relationships. His main objective will be to see more of Christ formed in you.
If your leaders’ objectives are to make everyone conform to their “theology or concepts” and to build bigger and better structures and organizations, then you must question whether they understand that spiritual growth has nothing to do with numbers, or all having the same theology.
SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS ENTIRELY RELATED TO THE DEGREE THAT GOD’S LIFE HAS GROWN IN YOU. (Emphasis mine)
Beware of submitting your life to church leadership which does not clearly understand this, or you will be led towards wrong objectives, and your spiritual growth will be stunted. Having proper objectives is essential for every disciple of the King and His Kingdom. Without the right goal it is not possible to understand or teach submission correctly. Paul defines the correct goal of sound teaching in his first epistle to Timothy.
“The goal of our instruction is love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1:5)
Submission needs to be understood in this context, because the only purpose of submission is that through it we allow God and our brethren to conform us to the image of Christ. This requires the renewing of our minds until we learn to think, speak and act like God does. This will take many years and some, if not much, suffering, but the transformation takes place in the heart. It is our inner man who grows, until we are no longer “mere men” like the Corinthian babes, but spirit men who are led by the Spirit of God.
Submission is not a legalistic doctrine to be enforced at all costs, because we have found a doctrinal basis for it in the New Testament. Submission is an ATTITUDE OF HEART which is needed before your will can become aligned to the will of God.
Those who have no desire to receive teaching, rebuke and correction from other disciples of the King and His Kingdom, have not yet “willed to do the will of God”, and cannot be discipled. However, if we are sincere in our desire to become His disciples, we must not remain gullible, unthinking children, but learn to be wise in God’s ways so that we do not submit unwisely.
There are four levels of authority in DECREASING IMPORTANCE, which every disciple must understand:
1. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2. The Scriptures – as you understand them.
3. YOUR OWN CONSCIENCE.
4. Other Christians, or secular authority.
The authority of your own conscience is a higher level of authority than that vested in any other human being. Every man and woman has the right to obey their own conscience under God. No other person has the right to violate our Christian conscience. It does not matter whether that person is a secular authority, a husband, a pastor, an apostle, an Archbishop or the Pope.
On the descending levels of authority scale they are all in a category lower than our own conscience. Unquestioning obedience to church leaders may not be spiritual submission, but foolishness, leading to deception. If it brings us into bondage to a religious system and the traditions of men, it is not what God desires. It will result in disobedience to the King, which leads to “a bad conscience, and insincere faith”. (Emphasis is mine! Again another monumental point that must be shouted to the four corners of the Body of Christ. Thousands of Christians who firmly believe to be following Christ today are instead following men’s word, vision, and agenda and are buying into the marketing techniques to push those men and women’s church forward).
Sincere faith is believing in your heart. It is not giving mental assent because some other person tells you what you ought to believe. Romans 14 teaches us that if we do anything against our convictions before God we are sinning. We must therefore resist any attempt to coerce or subjugate us against the innermost convictions and prompting of our own hearts.
Resistance to that “still, small voice” within you is resistance to the Holy Spirit, who is infinitely wiser than any man. It is the Holy Spirit who is disturbing the hearts of God’s children in Babylon, and it is He who is calling us out of there and into the New Jerusalem.
As we grow in spiritual understanding and have our minds renewed, we will find that the “church” we belong to will become inadequate, and the Holy Spirit will urge us to move on. Most church leaders will not understand this, and strive to keep “their church members”. When they find that they cannot hold us they may decide that we are deceived or demonized, or that we are unruly rebels.
Believers who experience such situations are often bruised and hurt by the lack of wisdom of such leaders who strive to persuade them to stay, and then reject them, or malign them when they break free.
We must have humble and gentle hearts toward such leaders, for they have not yet understood what the Lord is doing today. They are frightened that those who leave “their church” will contaminate the thinking of those who remain. They sincerely believe that those who disagree with them are wrong, and so they struggle to protect their “little kingdoms”.
Likewise, if you are a pastor, and the Holy Spirit is calling you out of the system, you may face misunderstanding, anger and even severe hurt from the people who wish to control you. This is the natural fleshly reaction of a church board, elders, deacons or a congregation to some thing they do not understand.
If the Holy Spirit is leading you out of a church membership or leadership situation, do not be disturbed by the lack of understanding of those you are leaving. Do not let their rejection of you, or their maligning of you, affect your love for them.
If they cannot understand your need to obey the Lord rather than their traditions and concepts, then have compassion for their spiritual blindness, and remember that it is only by the grace of God that you have had your eyes opened. It is also only by the grace of God that we grow in spiritual understanding and wisdom.
God loves all His children equally, whether they are obedient or disobedient. THOSE WHO REMAIN IN BABYLON OR THOSE WHO JOURNEY ON TO THE NEW JERUSALEM ARE EQUALLY PRECIOUS TO OUR WONDERFUL FATHER.