For example: the Mormon people claim to worship the same God that we do. What’s the difference? Where did they get off track? Perhaps it was a great leader whom they respected so much; that they started holding his writings and teachings in equal standing with the Bible. Maybe their original intentions were good. Maybe they just thought it was godly to honor the traditions of the men who went before them.
But wait, what about Scripture? What about God’s Word?
Do we take the time to evaluate every single thing we do and believe in; with the Holy Bible (which is the inspired Word of God?)
If we were on a desert island with nothing to go by but the Bible- no previous world views to contend with, no cultural influence, no presumptions about religion… what would we do? What would we act like? What would we dress like? The key is realizing that the Bible actually IS the only thing we have to go by.
Through the ages, mankind has added to God’s principles in one way or another in an effort to “polish” their religion; or, (God forbid), in an attempt to gain power over God’s people. The end result is not true religion. Now, I seriously doubt that God will condemn you for trying to go above and beyond with your dress standards… etc. That is, if you have the correct motive. God does, after all, look at the HEART. But, trying to hold other Christians to your own measuring stick? Now that, I believe, is dangerous stuff.
I have met people who believe that whatever their pastor says is the law. That kind of thinking really scares me… because there is so much room for fault when an imperfect man is in a position of power. It’s as if Satan preys on those in power; delighting when he can lead them away from God’s boundaries and causes them, in turn, to lead others astray. We as humans, seem to be prone to falling into idolatry. It is so very easy to begin worshipping a man, rather than God. If we begin using other sources as our measuring stick other than the Word of God, we begin a downward spiral through an ever disintegrating foundation.
Where do we draw the line...?
Let’s pretend that one pastor says, “I think everybody should wear blue hats. That’s the only way to get to heaven!” But another pastor disagrees and says, “No, I think red gloves should do the trick. That’s what will distinguish us as God’s people!” Who’s right?
There is “safety in a multitude of counselors” you say? Alright… let’s say there are 15 ministers. 12 of them believe in the blue hats uniform, and 3 of them don’t agree there should be a uniform at all. Would you go along with the majority? What if the 12 say to the 3: “You will lose out with God if you do not respect the decision of the majority of the brethren to wear blue hats! If you don’t comply, we will dis-fellowship you!”
Sounds silly right? Maybe that’s because it is...
Nowhere in Scripture are men given the right to decide who is “in or out” of Christ’s Body of Believers. And Scripture is very clear about not making up our own rules and “adding” to the Word of God. If we don’t use the Bible as our source of wisdom and direction… if we start following men… where does it end?
Who do we please?
Although I do believe we should carefully examine the men we choose to follow, in order to make sure they will not lead us astray… I am not advocating a spirit of rebellion. I’m pointing out that we need to have God’s Word set on a MUCH higher pedestal than man’s opinion! Trust me. God knows if you have rebellion in your heart. And, if you do, it will probably make its appearance in your home long before it shows up at church.
Here are a few verses, which lead me to believe in “Sola Scriptura”:
Proverbs 30:5-6 “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add thou not unto His words; lest He reprove thee and thou be found a liar."
Acts 17:11 "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so."
Matthew 15:3 “And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?””
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Delving deeper into the subject of the authority of church leadership:Respect and submission to our God-given authority is vitally important according to the Word of God. Having said that, not all authorities are created equal! For example: God's authority over us completely supersedes any earthly authority. God is our ULTIMATE AUTHORITY, but He has also placed over us earthly lords.
When we first enter this world, we are subject to our parents. Being under the authority of your father is an umbrella of protection that God has installed for your youth. If you are a woman, that authority transfers to your husband when you get married.
Children honoring their father and mother, and wives submitting to their husbands are the 2 main earthly authoritative positions that Scripture discusses. There are numerous Scriptures regarding both of these "chains of command" that God set up. He MUST have thought they were very important, because He repeated Himself quite often on the importance of these orders.
The authority of church leadership is a subject spoken of much less often in Scripture. Probably the most common verses used for this topic are:
~ Hebrews 13:5 “"Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the outcome of their life, imitate their faith."
~ Hebrews 13:7a “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account…”
The writer actually chooses two special words in the latter verse. This is the only time this particular word for "submit" is used in the New Testament. It does not mean "rank under" as the other words for submit used in Scripture do. Rather, it means to yield, or withdraw. That is a little different. As you consider the elders, the outcome of their lives and how they lead you through teaching the Scripture, are you willing to withdraw or to yield to the truth that they present? That is not the same as standing under, in a military sense.
And then the word "obey'' has in its foundation again a special word. It does not mean to accept orders. Rather, it means to be persuaded. Consider what these godly men say, be willing to be persuaded, but clearly, they must demonstrate the truth that God has them to speak. Do not merely take blind orders; but be persuaded.
A true man of God will persuade you to submit to God, not himself.
The husband/father of a household is the “priest” of his household, which means he is responsible for leading his family spiritually. (A wife is never to obey her pastor over her husband! Wives are commanded twice in Scripture (Eph. 5:22 and Col. 3:18) to submit to their "own husband". Meaning, not to another woman's husband. That includes a pastor; as he would either be single or married to someone else.)
If a man prays to God for guidance, I believe God will lead and guide him to a church assembly which fits his family’s needs, provides a place for them to be active workers in the kingdom, and aids/encourages them in spiritual growth.
I’ve come to realize what a treasure a true shepherd is. Having a pastor who has the spirit of a servant rather than that of a master is a HUGE BLESSING! If you have one, be grateful!
Thank God for the righteous authorities in your life! They have a tough job, and are worthy of our prayers!