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.
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.
"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). “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on him not understanding it.” -Upton Sinclair
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.
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).
"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.].
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.
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.
Who Were the Nikolaitans?
Revelation 2:6,15 says, "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.... So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate." What were the deeds and doctrine of the Nikolaitans? The Greek actually means Niko (conquer) Laos or laity (the people). Nikolaitans were rulers over the laity, forcing everyone to submit to the arbitrary dominion of men, rather than each following his Bible. But Christians are warned against "being lords over God's heritage" (1 Pet. 5:3). Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18) -- not men.
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.
Come out of "Blind-Obedience Idolatry" Babylon (Rev. 18:4) -- Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God
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).
"With Force and With Cruelty Have Ye Ruled Them"
"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment. And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle" (Ez. 34:2-22).