Last week we talked about how no where in Scripture does it say we are to obey a leader when they are leading us in or commanding us to do evil or to do anything against what God defines as good.
How then do we know which people are appointed by God and are doing good and thus have authority that we should submit to versus which people are simply claiming they are appointed by God and saying they have His authority?
Anyone can come into our lives and say they exist as an authority and are therefore appointed by God, but if they do not hold to the things of God, they do not posses the authority of God. Rather they are a false prophet claiming to speak for God but actually hold no authority whatsoever.
1Jo 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Gal 2:4-5 Paul speaks of how they responded to “ . . . false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
Paul wrote Romans (see last weeks blog post) and Galatians. And here we find Paul, saying, “we did not yield submission even for an hour.” Why? Because those who sought their submission were false brethren who would have had them act in contradiction to the truth of the gospel.
Mat 7:15-16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.”
When a church leaders is chosen in the Bible there are certain character qualities that are stipulate as being necessary to their selection in becoming those to whom God would give His authority. Why are these qualifications important beyond just leadership selection? They are important because they tell us what we can and should expect from the people who truly hold positions of God given authority. These qualities help us know which leaders truly possess God’s authority and which leaders might in fact be falsely claiming to possess God’s authority.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the stipulations laid out for positions of church authority such as an elder. Titus 1:5-16 “ . . . appoint elders in every city as I commanded you—if a man is . . .”
- the husband of one wife
- having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination
- a steward of God
- not self-willed
- not quick-tempered
- not give to wine
- not violent
- not greedy for money
- a lover of what is good
- holding fast the faithful word
- able to by sound doctrine exhort and convict those who contradict
Notice in this list the words “blameless” and “lover of what is good.” These are small words but they carry a weighty meaning. They should be blameless—someone innocent of wrongdoing.
The qualification “holding fast the faithful word” is also weighty. The church leadership God gives His authority to are those people who hold fast to God’s word, not those who twist it and use it to manipulate for their own desires or to re-define what is good.
1 Timothy 3:1-12 “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be . . .”
- the husband of one wife,
- of good behavior
- able to teach
- not given to wine
- not violent,
- not greedy for money
- not quarrelsome
- not covetous
- rules his own house well
- children in submission with all reverence
- not a novice
- a good testimony among those who are outside
1 Timothy 3:8 “Likewise deacons must be . . . ”
- not double-tongued
- not give to much wine
- not greedy for money
- holding the mysteries of the faith with a pure conscience
- the husbands of one wife
- ruling their children and their own house well
- wife must be reverent, not a slanderer, temperate, faithful in all things.
1Ti 3:10 “But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless.”
They are to be blameless — innocent of wrongdoing. But, wait, isn’t it impossible to be blameless before God? Hmm, well, let’s see what Scripture says about this:
Col 1:21 “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
Blamelessness is to continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast. This is how we shall know the leaders who truly possess authority.
Mat 7:28 “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
Challenge: Know what the Bible says and what faith in God really is, because in so doing you will know what it means to continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast. In this way you will know who truly bears God’s authority and should be submit to verse those who are false claimers of authority who you are to overcome with good (Rom 12:21) by saying “We must obey God not men” (Act 5:29) and to whom you shall “not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” (Gal 2:4-5)