Should We "Blindly" Obey Ministers?

 

Should we "OBEY THEM that have the rule over" us (Heb. 13:17), or "OBEY GOD rather than men" (Acts 5:29)? Do ministers have a right to "BIND and LOOSE" (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; John 20:23) or don't they (Matt. 23:8)? We see many churches organized in a hierarchical, pyramid structure, telling their congregations to OBEY the minister. What kind of authority do ministers possess? Are they really our MASTERS? Our Lord said, "Neither be ye called MASTERS: for one is your MASTER, even Christ. (Matt. 23:10), "and all ye are brethren" (Matt. 23:8).

 

Korah's Gainsaying: "Thou Make Thyself Altogether A Prince Over Us"

Numbers 16:2-4 states, "And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves ABOVE the congregation of the Lord? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face." Then in verse 10 Moses reveals that these men sought the priesthood, an office which God hadn't given them. Then some of these men, in verses 13 and 14 said to Moses: "Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except THOU MAKE THYSELF ALTOGETHER A PRINCE OVER US? Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up." Then in verses 31 through 35, God destroys these men.

Jude 11 condemns the "gainsaying of Korah. What was that? They rebelled by intruding into the priestly office which no man should take to himself (Heb. 5:4). They were not son's of Aaron. Further, when Korah, Dathan and Abiram rebelled against Moses, they were rebelling against the ONLY SOURCE of REVELATION from God at that time. Moses was in place of a Bible. There were no Bibles. The Israelite "blind obedience" was justified because Moses' ministerial credentials were confirmed through continual MIRACLES. Moses taught the people God's ways and laws. Without him, they had no source of revealed knowledge. Moses was a TYPE of Christ: "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken" (Deut. 18:15).

Yes, today, Jesus Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 12:24; 1 Tim. 2:5). Today we must not rebel against Christ who reveals God's will to us through the pages of the Bible just as Moses revealed God's law to ancient Israel. Christ is the "Prince over us" just as Moses was "a prince" over them. Our "blind obedience" is directed toward Christ, "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7) and without sight, a person is truly walking blindly with only the Scriptures as a lamp for his feet and a light for his path. Even in the Old Testament, it was not uncommon for God to contrast doing "that which is right in your own eyes" with "that which is right in the sight of the Eternal." This also is "blind obedience" -- not to a man but to the Eternal, same as the New Testament. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and doesn't change (Heb. 13:8; Mal. 3:6).

Are We Disobeying God When We Disobey a Minister?

When the Israelites refused to hearken to God’s servant Samuel, God said, "they have not (only) rejected thee, but they have (also) rejected ME, that I should not reign over them” (I Sam. 8:7). Do we reject God himself when we reject a minister's teaching? Is disrespecting a minister tantamount to disrespecting God Himself? That is the argument some ministers use to justify their ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY. To fully understand this account, we need to read it thoroughly. The Israelites wanted a HUMAN KING (1 Sam. 8:19) rather than GOD speaking through his servant. This would be equivalent to wanting to follow a HUMAN RULER rather than allowing the BIBLE to be preached in churches today. Samuel was a faithful minister of God, teaching God's commandments. Therefore, it is really the BIBLE that the people rejected in favor of a HUMAN RULER in the "church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). Jesus Christ is the living head of the true church (Col. 1:18) -- not any MAN. Christians are able to talk to him DIRECTLY in prayer and listen to him DIRECTLY through Scripture. Any interference in that relationship is IDOLATRY. But the people in Samuel's day rejected that DIRECT relationship and wanted to put a HUMAN KING in between God and them. Samuel warned them that the HUMAN KING would take their money, their land, and their sons and daughters -- just as many HUMAN church LEADERS today try to put themselves between us and our Bibles; and also take our money. This Scripture teaches us just the opposite of what an AUTOCRAT would have us believe.

God wouldn't have condemned them for simply asking for the removal of Samuel's evil sons. It was not a rejection of corrupt human leadership that was perceived as rebellion against God. It was rejection of God himself. They said, "we will have a king over us" (1 Sam. 8:19) -- when God was already their king.

"Obey Them That Have the Rule Over" You (Heb. 13:17)

We should only ”Obey them that have the rule" (Heb. 13:17) over us to the extent that they are within Scriptural guidelines. When they step outside those boundaries, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29) when the two disagree. When Christians join a church group as laymen, they must receive "the word with all readiness of mind", and search "the scriptures daily, whether those things" are so (Acts 17:11) that come from the pulpit. "Prove all things" (1 Th. 5:21). “In (the) multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14). "God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues" (1 Cor. 12:28). Listen to them all -- and compare them with the Bible. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Be ye followers of me, even AS I also am of Christ." No more, no less. It was not until 1974 that the WCG began observing Pentecost on the correct day (Sunday). It had been kept on the wrong day for 40 years. "Pentecost always falls on the day after the Sabbath" (Mishna, Chagigah 2,4).

Obey "in the Lord"

"Children, obey your parents IN THE LORD: for this is right" (Eph. 6:1). "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit IN THE LORD" (Col. 3:18). "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you IN THE LORD, and admonish you" (1 Th. 5:12). What does "in the Lord" mean? It means as long as they teach what the Bible says. If they deviate from Scripture, we should "obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29) when the two disagree.

 


What Is Moses' Seat?

Moses was a judge (Ex. 18:13-16). In Exodus 18:16 we find that Moses merely made "them know the statutes of God, and his laws." Bibles today serve the same purpose. After he died, Joshua and other judges successively took Moses' place. They sat in Moses' seat, so to speak. It was governmental authority. Turn to Deuteronomy 17:8-12 for a definition of Moses' seat.

Deuteronomy 17:8-12 states, "If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment ("if" implies its voluntary), between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire (not a minister searching out or spying on the congregation); and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel."

Obeying this Scripture would be equivalent to obeying the legal justice system with police and courts and judges. They carry not the sword in vain. It has nothing to do with churches and ministers.

Matthew 23:1-4 states, "Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that OBSERVE and DO; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." Does this Scripture advocate "blind obedience"? No. It doesn't even address the church. It is referring to the legal code of the nation. The scribes copied the Scriptures and the Pharisees read them in the synagogues. Otherwise Christ contradicted himself since he makes it clear five verses later that the scribes and Pharisees are not masters over Christians. Christ is our only master (23:8). The Scriptures (Old Testament), even at this late date, were not readily available to the common man. The only way to learn God's will was by attending the Synagogue for the Torah reading.

What Do Peter's KEYS Represent?

Christ stated, "I will give unto thee (Peter) the KEYS of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 16:19). What do these KEYS represent? In Luke 11:52, Christ interprets what the KEYS of the kingdom of heaven are. He says, "Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the KEY of KNOWLEDGE; ye entered not in (to the kingdom of heaven) yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered." The KEYS given to Peter were KEYS of KNOWLEDGE. The KEYS which open the doors into the Kingdom of Heaven are nothing more than an UNDERSTANDING of what God requires of Christians. A knowledge of the true doctrines like the Sabbath, Holy Days, and Tithing. Christ gave Peter KNOWLEDGE, but also warned him not to bind (require) or loose (not require) what was not already bound or loosed in heaven. Otherwise Peter would be taking "away the KEY of KNOWLEDGE" like the lawyers and binding "heavy burdens" like the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23:4).

We should not be afraid of any human leader of the church. Revelation 1:18 shows clearly that it is Christ who holds the KEYS of hades and death, not Peter. If a Christian, for conscience' sake, decides to disobey Peter, the penalty cannot be eternal death. Christ's words are life (John 6:63), not Peter's. False human dogmas are not bound in heaven. All should speak the same thing from the pulpit (1 Cor. 1:10), because God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). But at the same time there should be enough freedom in the church to allow everyone to follow the dictates of his own conscience, using Scriptures as his guide (Rom. 14).

"Binding and Loosing"

The New American Standard Bible does a good job translating Matthew 16:19 and 18:18. “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth SHALL HAVE BEEN bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth SHALL HAVE BEEN loosed in heaven" (NASB, Matt. 18:18). The Greek text in the phrase that most versions translate as, “will be bound in heaven” does not have a simple future tense, as “will be” implies, and the verb “bind” is passive in the Greek text, so “shall have been bound” or “must have been bound” are good translations of the Greek. [The “to be” verb in Matthew 18:18 is a future passive periphrastic perfect indicative. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1930), p. 149.].

The Amplified Bible says, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth MUST BE WHAT IS ALREADY BOUND in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth MUST BE WHAT IS ALREADY LOOSED in heaven" (Matt. 16:19).

An excellent translation of Matthew 18:18 was done by Charles Williams. "I solemnly say to you, whatever you forbid on earth must BE ALREADY FORBIDDEN in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth must BE ALREADY PERMITTED in heaven.” (Williams', Matt. 18:18). Julius R. Mantey, the Greek grammarian and scholar who co-authored A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, wrote that Williams’ translation did a better job of translating the Greek verb into English than any other New Testament he had studied, and he gave Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 as examples of verses that Williams translated very well.

Once Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 are properly translated, we have clear teaching on how to act before God. It is not that we bind or loose and then God backs up what we do. It is God who first binds or looses in heaven, and then WE FOLLOW HIS LEADING and do the same on earth. God’s ministers do not make commands that God must approve and follow. Rather, God’s ministers must become aware of what God wants done, and then follow His lead. These are the KEYS he shows us. Jesus himself worked that way, as Scripture makes clear: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 5:19). "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me" (John 5:30). "I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me" (John 8:28). Jesus’ disciples, like Jesus himself, are to follow God’s leading, as the correct translation of Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 makes clear. The binding and loosing is repeated by Jesus to all the disciples (18:18). Later after the Resurrection Christ uses this same language to all the disciples (John 20:23), showing that it was not a special prerogative of Peter alone, or some imaginary papal successor.

Is Peter A Title Of Rank?

Yet some people would have you believe that Peter was given absolute authority over the church in matters of doctrine.

Thge priest who explained the Babylonian Mystery religion to initiated followers was called, in primitive Chaldee, "Peter", which means "an interpreter or revealer of secrets". In Hebrew the name means "opener". In Greek, the priest was called a "Hierophant."

Did Jesus Christ, who may have been aware of these facts, then decide to imitate paganism by naming his apostle to the circumcision "Peter"? Is "Peter" a name or a religious title of rank? Was Peter given authority to interpret the Bible for the church?

In Job 32:21-22, Elihu knew the answer. He said, "Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give FLATTERING TITLES unto man. For I know not how to give FLATTERING TITLES; in so doing my maker would soon take me away."

In Matthew 16:18, Christ stated, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (Greek "STONE". Petros has a masculine ending.), and upon this ROCK (Greek "massive rock". Petra has a feminine ending.) I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Next, John 1:42 states, "And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jonah; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, A STONE." (in Aramaic).

The Bible interprets itself. Peter's two nicknames, the one in Greek (Petros) and the other in Aramaic (Cephas), both mean "STONE". In fact, according to Peter's own writings, all Christians are living STONES (1 Pet. 2:5).

Peter is a name, not a title. God merely changed Simon's name to Peter, just as he had changed Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, and Saul to Paul. Names have meaning. But who is the massive ROCK or Petra? What does the Bible say? 1 Corinthians 10:4 states, "that ROCK (Petra) was Christ." Psalm 94:22 states, "the Eternal is my defense; and my God is the ROCK of my refuge." Deuteronomy 32:4 states, "He is the ROCK ... a God of truth." Clearly, Christ is the Petra. It is not Peter's church that Christ built, but Christ said, " I will build my church."

Church Government -- the "Image of the Beast" -- Originated in Babylon

The religion of ancient Babylon had a purpose. That purpose was "to bind all mankind into blind and absolute submission to a hierarchy" (p.7, Hislop's Two Babylons). Long after ancient Babylon had been conquered, we read about another "Mystery Babylon" portrayed as a woman (Rev. 17:4-5). We know that a woman represents a CHURCH (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-27). But she is a HARLOT -- an immoral woman -- ruling over many nations (Rev.17:1,15). She sits on, or controls, the Roman Empire. (17:3). She is "that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth" (17:18) -- Rome. She makes the world "drunk" (17:2). How? By "obeying your confessor you obey God" (p.554, The Spouse of Christ). When a person enters the Catholic Church, "he has no further use for his reason. He enters the Church, an edifice illuminated by the superior light of revelation and faith. He can leave reason like a lantern, at the door." (p.76, Explanation of Catholic Morals). "Finally, far from claiming, like Protestants, that everyone has the right to determine the meaning of Scripture, far from declaring every man the judge and arbiter of his belief, we say that it belongs to the Church, assisted by the Holy Spirit ... to determine the meaning of the sacred text ..." (pp. 354-355, Catholic Apologetics).

Ancient Babylon took the sacred vessels used in God's temple to worship him, and poured wine in them to toast and worship FALSE GODS, which resulted in DRUNK IDOL-WORSHIPPERS. In the same way, the "image of the beast" (Rev. 13:15) -- the Roman Catholic Church -- took the Holy Scriptures and used them to justify IDOL WORSHIP which resulted in deceived "Christianity". Roman Emperor Constantine summoned the Nicene Council, which decided against Arius' anti-trinitarian doctrine, and enforced trinitarianism and Sunday-keeping. It was Constantine who introduced into the (false) church the idea of a committee or hierarchy to decide doctrine. Constantine made his decisions on doctrine, as decided by church rulers on a board, the basis of fellowship and unity in the Church. The first real Popish ruler was Leo I (440-461 A.D.), for whom "the plan of government of the Roman Empire was an obsession. He applied and adapted that form of government to the church, forming the Papacy," (Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, vol. 7, p. 529). Myers' Ancient History says that the Church, under Leo I, set up within the Roman Empire, an ecclesiastical state [government] which, in its constitution and its administrative system, was shaping itself upon the imperial model." The Pope was worshipped just like the Emperor of Rome had been.

Church government is "the image of the beast" (Rev. 13:15). It appears as a LAMB (John 1:29; Rev. 17:14), but speaks as a DRAGON (Rev. 12:9; 20:2) -- for "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12:34). The "fruits" of this way of life are not good -- even in churches that have otherwise many true doctrines. Members are commanded, "DON'T DISCUSS THE BIBLE with any other member unless there is a minister present." Also "FEW of the brethren or ministers seriously STUDY THEIR BIBLES" any more. (Why We Left the Worldwide Church of God Organization, 1977, Church of God the Eternal, p.4). They lose interest. The Bible is not studied or talked about. It is cast aside -- REJECTED -- in favor of the worship of a man. God our Father is rejected for a human "papa" who exalts himself above all that is called God (2 Thess. 2:3-4). "Students are warned about the dangers of using their own minds" (pp. 172-173, The Armstrong Empire, 1974). The human MIND is portrayed as CARNAL (Rom. 8:7) and THINKING as "a way which seemeth right ... but the end thereof are the ways of DEATH" (Pr. 14:12). That is why members are told to let the ministers interpret the Bible for them. "In my case, when I began to study the Bible for myself and ask some questions of my own, they told me, 'You act like you know more than the apostle, Mr. Armstrong.' I replied, 'No, but your own minister held up a Bible and said, 'Get back to the horse's mouth.' That's what I'm doing.' They said, 'True. But you are not to study doctrine. You read the pamphlets and we'll take care of the doctrine part of it ourselves'" (Armstrongism, Sumner, p.419).

Come out of "Blind-Obedience Idolatry" Babylon (Rev. 18:4)

There are no human mediators between God and men. God gives his orders directly to each individual via the Bible. Ministers should try to assist that process -- as their very name suggests -- rather than "being lords over God's heritage" (1 Pet. 5:3). No minister has "dominion over your faith" (2 Cor. 1:24). That would be idolatry. You aren't "another man's servant" (Rom. 14:4) or it would be "blind obedience." "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man (any human), in whom there is no help" (Ps. 146:3) "His ye are whom ye obey" (Rom. 6:16). "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom. 3:4). "Cursed is the man who trusts in man" (Jer. 17:5). "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). "In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" (Mark 7:7). "Paul an apostle -- not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father" (Gal. 1:1). "For you gladly bear with fools ... For you bear it if a man makes slaves of you" (2 Cor. 11:19-20). "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me" (Hos. 4:6). "He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the WORD that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day" (not what men have said) (John 12:48). "Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins" (Rev. 18:4).


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