CHURCHES ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS THE ONES IN CHARGE
Posted by RJ Dawson
And the vast majority of church leaders refuse to allow the Lord Jesus to be in charge, the only one who should be.
OBEY THEM THAT HAVE THE RULE OVER YOU
I have specified this header as a perfect example of a bad KJV translation pushing the highly authoritative theme within it. It is from Hebrews 13:17. Church leaders in general have traditionally used this verse and others like it as a control mechanism and even a hammer to bash over the heads of their congregants to force them to surrender wholesale to their Rule. And they are not shy in using the term Rule. They want everyone to know they Rule. The only way this could be true, however, is if they stole the rule of the Lord Jesus since they are not operating according to His instructions.
Here is the KJV version:
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. [KJV]
Even the NASB95, however, which is a far better translation, and interestingly does not contain the word “rule,” fails to get the true nuance of the writer’s intention:
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. [NASB95]
Here is a slightly better translation with greater explanation from the Classic Amplified:
Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you], for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account [of their trust]. [Do your part to] let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you [either]. [AMPC]
The word “obey” is from the Greek πείθω peithō. Here is the Strong’s definition: a primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy, to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively, to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty):—agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) confident, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.
From this we clearly gather that the writer of Hebrews was not instructing his readers to obey rulers. Here again is the authoritative bias in the KJV presenting itself, making the religious ecclesiastics which ruled the Church of England 400 years ago essentially the same as the English king. I can assure you that those Christian Pharisees in general were not serving the Lord Jesus, something that should be obvious. Therefore, we must not do as they say, or even their demands as inflected incorrectly by their hand upon Holy Writ, but do what the Lord Jesus says.
WE ARE TO OBEY FIRST AND ALWAYS THE LORD JESUS. This has never been optional. To that end, according to the spirit of what was written in the verse, a disciple willingly submits to spiritually mature Christian elders who obey the Lord Jesus in order to develop as good disciples. There is nothing about rule in this passage. It is instead a picture of the Lord’s people working in concert with Him and one another in love, harmony, and conciliation to be the best disciple in His service one can be and thus create the best and most effective spiritual Community.
Since He never created denominations our effort should be on joining and supporting His Church, the only one that exists and in which He is King and sole authority.
THOSE WHO RULE
Anyone who does even a modicum of research into historical traditional Christian leadership cannot help but notice that it is always top-heavy, largely unresponsive, and rarely in compliance with the Lord’s full teachings. The reason is otherwise obvious in that those who wrest control always apply their own stamp upon whatever they are in charge of whether they may be “good intentioned” or not. This makes it their own enterprise over which they rule. The rule of the Lord is subverted. Most church leaders thus always obey their denomination’s dictates and their congregation’s religious prejudices. To do otherwise is career suicide.
Keep in mind that many if not most non-denominational and independent churches also have their own respective doctrines that parallel those of the denominations their leaders are most familiar with or privy to, or from which they have come or in which they were raised. They do not necessarily advertise this, however, which can be deceptive. Others are aligned with denominations but often keep their fellowship connections under the radar. They have their reasons.
The majority of Christians are apparently unaware of such connections and may not understand that their church leaders are not working for them but for higher powers. These can be placed in only two general categories. One regards doctrine. The other regards money. Church leaders (pastor’s, ministers, priests, etc.) must obey these two. They must obey their doctrinal overlords and make sure they get the doctrine right including all distinctions thereof. Each denomination has their own divergent set of doctrinal bylaws, the “What We Believe” component or their “Statement of Faith.” These always vary. Thus, to be a minister within denomination 1, one better make sure he never preaches the doctrine of denomination 2 and vice versa. Denomination 2 does not pay him. He only gets a paycheck from the overlords of denomination 1. Therefore, such ministers must obey their benefactors.
They must also obey the constituents of the denomination. Of course, some denominations get cute by referring to their distinct denomination not by that term but as some other innocuous term such as “fellowship” or “communion.” But such names do not matter except as a surface feel-good diversionary tactic. The reality is that Christian denominations remain distinct because the big boys in control demand that all its lower prelates preach and teach only what they allow. Those who fully obey those who crack the whip are then compensated financially. This is how it has always worked and the only way it can work. Thus, such “ministers” do not work for the Lord Jesus as they claim. They ultimately only work for their higher-ups and their congregations.
This makes the majority of Christian ministers mere hirelings (KJV) or the hired hands of their respective denominations, which are actually religious enterprises that operate akin to businesses. They are hired by the denomination. They are supported by the congregation’s money and must keep the people of their church in line and contented. They are always much more concerned with the congregation as a group instead of with individual members. They serve the denomination and those who control it. They obey all of its laws and bylaws. They preach only what the denomination tells them to preach and allows them to preach. Also, such hirelings always prove their priorities when the going gets rough:
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” [John 10:11-18]
This passage of Scripture tells anyone with ears to hear exactly what the priorities of any Christian or Christian leader should be but rarely is. It’s a sad state of affairs and American Christianity is rife with this hired hand/denominational control by money and social status which routinely thumbs its nose at the Lord Jesus and the great sacrifice He made on our behalf.
Where do these people get off in deciding which of the Lord’s teachings they will support and those they won’t?
Real Christian ministers serve the Lord Jesus FIRST and ALWAYS. They will only work with those who also put the Lord Jesus FIRST and ALWAYS. They refuse to be compromised as are the hired hand sellouts who do a masterful job of covering up their duplicity. Also sadly, those who follow those who don’t follow the Lord Jesus though they think they do and they claim to end up like these unfortunate ones:
Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” [Matthew 15:12-14]
Regarding how and why such a sad state of affairs can exist and has existed for so long, consider the fact that most Christians have been indoctrinated with their denomination’s beliefs and dogmas rather than being taught the fullness and purity of the Lord’s teachings. One of these enslaves and the other sets free. It is why there is so much fear among so many Christians who have been conditioned to believe that any questioning of their Christian authority figures must be and is verboten. It is why any real reform is impossible. Christian ministers fear career/monetary ruin. Congregants fear social ruin. Neither wants to be perceived as a deviant from the norm. Hence, serving the compromised uncircumcised-in-heart institution takes precedence over serving God.
Those who discover and honor the Light act otherwise.
“While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.
This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.
Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” [John 12:36-43]
The bottom line here, again, should be obvious: When the Lord Jesus is allowed to be fully in charge, a relatively rare thing, one will know it. He is not some spiritually powerless ruling clergyite false authoritarian or fearful sycophantic bought-and-sold church pastor never venturing beyond the company line. When Christians submit to His rule and authority everything changes dramatically for the better: His ministry as it was in His time will break out. Pentecost will break out. The Book of Acts will transpire. People will WAKE UP and desire His direct management and control. Great Awakenings will not only happen but go into overdrive. This is His promise.
It is the evidence He is in charge.
© 2023 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Posted on March 17, 2023, in Teaching and tagged America, Christian Denominations, Christian Pharisees, Discipleship, False Doctrine, False Religious Authority, False Shepherds, Hired Hands, Jesus Created One Church, Lord Jesus, New Covenant Teachings of Jesus, Obedience, Prideful Church Leaders, Real Christianity The Nature of the Church, The Good Shepherd, The Great Awakening, Unreal Christianity. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
This article does bring a sadness to my heart. I know there are those in the ministry for the wrong reasons, those who want to be lord over their congregations, hopefully they will still preach the word, the gospel of Jesus’ death burial and resurrection. Then at least that much is going out. But sadder still is they can only do this as people refuse to feed on God’s word personally so as not to be deceived. The leaders have their responsibility and as servants of the Lord will answer to him, so will we who sit in the pews. Pray for our ministers of the gospel. I’m thankful for those I have sat under or should I say with.
Thank you Donna. Those who study the history of the first-century Community of the Lord know that the Book of Acts is an extension of the gospels. What happened in that thirty year time period encapsulating the Acts historical account, from 32-62 AD, was an extension of the Lord’s ministry. His ministry was divided at the time of His sacrificial death until Pentecost. This roughly 52 day period began with The Lord’s death on Passover and included His burial, Resurrection, His 40 day witness period, His Ascension, and the ten days of tarrying awaiting Pentecost. At that point Part 2 began as the Lord poured forth His indwelling Spirit as promised and began working with the apostles and members of the Early Church from a spiritual standpoint. It was still His ministry as it has been ever since. But again, there are those who claim Christianity but have never joined His actual movement.
As you inferred, He taught that it is up to His followers to stay above deception and we do this primarily by staying close to the Lord Jesus, being filled with His Holy Spirit, and through hearing anointed preaching and teaching, reading and studying His Word, prayer and fasting, and fellowship with the members of His Community. As your life in ministry attests, we must be actual disciples of the Lord and not mere congregants. We must grow and develop spiritually and attend to our individual ministries and this can only happen if the Lord is in charge and we do things His way.
The Good News is that His Kingdom is a major, powerful beneficial spiritual force in this fallen world with likely millions of members, filled with Salt and Light, and preserving and shedding Truth. Nothing will ever overcome it. We are so extremely blessed to have Him and work with Him.
Thank you for the comment and your work. Blessings
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Your paragraph starting with “The Good News” speaks the message loud and clear. Thank you for your comments and devotion to the word.
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It is if those who are in front of the congregations are invoking fear before truth. That one must do this and in this order or we won’t get into heaven. But, it was never meant to be that difficult. He wrote His law on the hearts of all mankind. From the commandments, the two most important are to love our Father with our entire heart and mind, to not put anything before Him and to love our neighbor. The rest will fall into place. If I love Him enough and give my life to him, I don’t want to disappoint him by stealing. We are still not perfect by no means, but we will do better and be better by knowing our Father over all else first. I have never understood why ministers have to dress to stand out from the crowds during services. With the robes and colored scarf things they wear. I don’t know what they are called. Or the fancy hats some of them wear, even back in the times of the Pharisees. I see something different, I see them as trying to stand out and be above others. Which may not be the case, I just don’t understand why is all. Thank you RJ.
Thank you Sandra. You have stated much truth here. “If I love Him enough to give my life to Him…”
What follows in this fill-in-the-blank is exactly what He said and taught, in that we will obey His commandments, all of them. Normal people with correctly operating minds (the vast majority) know that the Lord Jesus is our ultimate example. He never engaged in many of the things the clergy boys do, some of which you state in your comment, which should make one wonder why most Christians support them. We should all be supporting the Lord FIRST. He is not only our spiritual Father, He is God. We must obey the greatest commandment and never put anything or anyone ahead of God, though this commandment is routinely broken by those who should know better.
The Lord’s example is pure. He is humble. He always comes way down to our level to reach us. He is the One we should be emulating. If we do we will eventually begin looking like Him, and acting like Him, and loving like Him, and standing up for Him, and telling the Truth like Him. Real Christians live to serve the Lord Jesus. In doing this, however, they separate themselves from the authoritarian fakers and faux bros which draws their persecution, the same way it happened with Him.
The religionists love their religion and religious stuff. They revel in it. They have no limits. Because they are not subjected to the Lord they end up looking and acting like the very opposite of the Lord. If some or many allow themselves to be deceived by them it is their problem. They always have the option of repenting, however.
In the final analysis, as to who gets it right, the Lord taught that the real disciples are not those who merely talk the talk but those who walk the walk. It is those who have both the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts or manifestation of the Spirit. The Pharisees knew the Word and taught the Word, but they also added a lot of their own stuff to God’s Word (the Oral Law). And because they opposed God they were not able to operate in the Spirit of God. It is in part why they hated the Lord for His miracles because they couldn’t perform them, because they were opposed to God, like most “Christian leaders.” Regarding this, the apostle Paul wrote the following:
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. [1Corinthians 2:1-16]
Blessings to you Sandra
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