Brethren, Jesus Christ is Lord (master) of the Church. HE is the one who bought us all with His blood. (That is to say, by his death on the cross, He paid for your sins and purchased you and me out of the hand of the devil). It is now our duty to submit to Jesus Christ absolutely. HE is Lord of all.
I hope these Scriptures below will suffice to make God’s viewpoint on this matter absolutely clear to you, that both corporately and individually, we are owned by God.
” … the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN? “For YOU WERE BOUGHT AT A PRICE; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20)
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18)
Jesus is Lord of all. This is clearly stated in Acts 10:36 – “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ — He is Lord of all — “.
Brethren, the question is not whether we should obey our Lord, but how we know if a thought in our mind is truly from the Lord. And this is where the spiritual battle truly is for many sincere Christians.
Beware of easy solutions and cheap cop-outs here
One danger Christians face today is to think that they can “outsource” the job of hearing from God to their pastors and spiritual leaders. Now I am very aware that there are two equal and opposite extremes here. Some people are so independent and closed to all forms of God appointed human leadership that they are left to fight the devil alone. They usually end up as casualties in the spiritual war. The other extreme is where people give cult-like devotion to human leaders, placing their lives absolutely at the disposal of some leader and his vision to change the world.
Neither extreme is healthy.
Jesus Christ did NOT delegate his Lordship over your life to anybody. HOWEVER, in limited spheres, God HAS appointed leadership and human authority over us. Major problems occur when any authority figure PRESUMES to cross over into areas of authority over others in which God has not appointed him or her. I would like to give some illustrations of this.
If the president of a country decrees that from now on no one must worship anyone but him, that president is an oppressor who has stepped over the line into areas of authority not given by God. But if a president or political ruler declares that taxes are going up – sorry, but we have to swallow it. God DID give authority to civil government in that area. Taxes are necessary to maintain the common infrastructure of a country.
If a schoolteacher tells a child that she must not listen to her parents, this is also an example of overstepping the bounds of delegated authority.
Church leaders ALSO have a sphere of authority given by God. It relates to the affairs of the local churches that they have been appointed to oversee. How the church is run, when meetings are held, order of service, what is taught in the church and who gets the microphone are rightly under the authority of the relevant church leaders. They however, are under the authority of God, and they will give an account to God for whether they are hearing and obeying the LORD.
If you don’t like what church leaders are doing, or the direction they are taking things, remember that firstly, YOU BELONG TO GOD. You need to ask God about whether you continue in that particular church fellowship or not. God may direct you to stay in places where you don’t like all the decisions being made. It could be that YOU are in the wrong. Its often the case that pastors are right and congregation members are wrong. But I doubt God would command you to stay in a place where false teachings and false spirits run freely. IT IS UP TO YOU TO KNOW GOD AND HIS WORD FOR YOURSELF. YOU CANNOT EXCUSE YOURSELF FROM THE RESPONSIBILITY YOU PERSONALLY HAVE TO KNOW GOD’S WORD AND GOD’S SPIRIT.
We are still learning to hear and know the voice of God perfectly, and at times, God will use OTHER people to bring His message to us.
But WE are responsible to check out all things according to God’s Word. We SHOULD BE LIKE THE BEREANS Jews mentioned in the book of Acts.
“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. (Acts 17:10-12)
I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the power of God. But I do not believe that spiritual power trumps the authority of the Word of God. Neither does money, human influence, human friendship, human networking or any number of things. We need to STUDY and check out the Scriptures on all issues, especially issues related to salvation, but also purity and how we live our lives.
We should check the Scriptures, and God urges us to research. We should NEVER be SLAVISHLY devoted to some ministry because they have helped us in the past, or because they have spoken truth in the past, or because God uses them in healing or miracles or the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
However, God does call us to serve one another in love and truth. He calls us to do this as He leads. The way we allocate our time MUST ultimately come under the authority of God. There is no substitute for progressively developing your own personal relationship with God.
If we are sincere Christians, resolved to be obedient to God, then our battle will be to make sure that we are being correctly led by God, and not by evil spirits masquerading as the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Do not assume that you can never be deceived by evil religious spirits pretending to be the voice of the Holy Spirit. It happens to almost every sincere but inexperienced Christian at some time in their lives – and it seems to be happening right now also to very experienced ministers who have a lot of people following them.
So take heed that NO ONE deceives you. (Matthew 24:3)