Chapter 3, Part 1 of “COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE” by Peter Whyte
AUTHORITY AND SUBMISSION IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Without submission there can be no formation of God’s character and nature in our lives. Christians are those born of God’s Spirit through their faith in Jesus Christ and what He accomplished at Calvary. They are saved and destined for heaven when they die. However, God’s salvation is also intended to have a profound effect on our earthly lives, which is why scripture exhorts us “to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2: 12)
This scripture has nothing to do with us working to get to heaven. Jesus takes care of that. It is the other aspect of salvation as applied to our lives on this earth that this is talking about. If we live in obedience to the teachings of Jesus we enjoy the benefits of salvation from the world, and we can experience and enjoy the privileges of being God’s children.
Jesus has no problem getting us to heaven. That part of His salvation is a free gift. He does, however, have a great problem with our free wills, (which He never over-rules) and He longs for our voluntary submission to His teachings and the will of God.
Submission must be voluntary or it is nothing more than subservience. Submission of our own desires and selfishness to the desires of our Lord and the needs of others is the natural result of obeying Jesus. Obedience to Christ is the only real evidence that we love Him. (emphasis is mine) All our religious activities, knowledge of scripture and good works can be rooted in self and are worthless, if we are not in submission to Him. The only measure of our love of Jesus is how much we obey His teachings.
The whole objective of our submission is THAT CHRIST BE FORMED IN US.
The New Testament teaches us to submit ourselves to God and then resist the devil who will flee from us. But the devil will flee only because of our submission to God. It also teaches us to submit to one another, but the purpose of submitting to one another is only that we may become more like Jesus, the firstborn of many brethren. We are enjoined to receive rebuke and correction from those that love us and care for our souls. We are also exhorted to submit to authorities appointed by God.
A submissive attitude is therefore essential for those who would grow to maturity in the Kingdom of God. However, the nature and function of authority in the Kingdom of God is diametrically opposed to the nature and function of worldly (Babylonian) authority. We must therefore have our minds renewed in this area or we will be ensnared by the enemy, who consistently takes the good things of God and warps our understanding, thereby making them unprofitable for us and hindering our true spiritual growth.
Over the centuries Satan introduced worldly structures of authority and worldly concepts of authority and submission into the churches. As a result most Christians have these worldly concepts, and have no idea that they are unacceptable in the kingdom of God. The worldly concept of authority means power to rule others, to enforce your will, your opinions and your decisions upon those under you. The worldly concept of submission means subservience and unquestioning obedience to leaders. Often this obedience stems out of fear of those in authority. If a Christian has this understanding he will be open to Satanic deception in a most subtle form. In his genuine desire to please God and not be rebellious, he will try to submit to any ordained minister or elder.
Women will do the same and submit to their own husbands, in some cases even when his demands are ungodly, or his behaviour intolerable, even Satanic, and think that they are thereby pleasing God. This kind of blind submission and unquestioning obedience is not what God requires and actually hinders spiritual growth and the extension of the Kingdom of God.
If we desire to come to maturity in Christ we must understand how government in the Kingdom of God functions, and that we all have a responsibility not to submit to wrong or deceived leadership, and especially immature or worldly leaders. According to scripture, we create authority over our lives by our submission.
“Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey…?” (Rom. 6:16)
Submission to wrong authority is therefore foolishness. We have individual responsibility to be discerning about what we obey, and to whom we present ourselves in submission. Our first obligation is always to submit ourselves unto God. Submission to our King always takes precedence over everything else. Submission to other Christians should be subject to one criterion. “Are they those that truly love me unconditionally and is their main concern to form more of Christ in me?”
If their main concern is to conform you to their beliefs, doctrines, rules or constitution of their religious organization or “church” then be wary, or you may find yourself a slave of something other than Christ. Belonging to a church which has a pastor or elders and obeying them is not necessarily submission in the sense that God requires it. You are responsible to discern whether they have been appointed by God, or whether they have been placed in authority through a worldly hierarchical system.
In the Kingdom of God every concept and principle is totally opposite to those in the world system, which is the design of the Prince of this World. The government of God is therefore exactly opposite in nature and function to the way government works in the systems and structures of the world.
HIS GOVERNMENT WILL ALWAYS PRODUCE PEACE AND JOY IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Any form of church government that does not produce peace and joy in your spirit must therefore be questioned. If it dominates, coerces or takes away your own decision-making process, then it is NOT from God, and you must resist and reject it. Failure to do so will ultimately bring you into miserable religious bondage and you will either stagnate in spiritual childhood doing what you are told and conforming to the system, or you will lose your peace and joy. This happens because the Holy Spirit within you is in disagreement with the spirit of the world working in the religious system. (emphasis is mine)
All the religious systems of the world have the same understanding of authority and submission. Judaism demands obedience to Rabbinical authority. Islam demands that its Ayatollahs and Mullahs receive total obedience from the faithful. The Roman Catholic Church subscribes supreme authority to its Pope, with its Cardinals, Bishops and Priests forming a pyramid structure of authority, to which the good Catholic submits. Throughout the Protestant denominations, right down to House church movements, churches are structured so that the pyramid form of control operates.
Authority is exercised by those above. Coercion, manipulation, rejection and even force are the methods by which worldly authority is exercised. This may be blatant or very subtle, but if anyone does not conform and submit to the leaders, these are the weapons that are ultimately used.
This is all in direct rebellion against the clear command of Jesus, who forbids the EXERCISE of authority in His Kingdom, among His disciples.
“You know the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them, IT IS NOT SO AMONG YOU, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall ‘be your slave.” (Matt. 20:24-27)
Until God’s children have a common desire to obey Christ and become His trained disciples, the kingdoms of this world can never become the kingdom of Christ. The words of Jesus are not taken seriously by Christians, and a powerful spirit of deception causes us not to see that He is our ultimate authority. If King Jesus says it then that should settle it. However, we are so bound by worldly concepts that we use scripture verses to contradict His teaching and then follow our wrong understanding of these verses rather than obey the Lord. Jesus clearly taught that those who lead or rule in His church may not lord it over others, or exercise their authority in the manner of the world.
In the Kingdom of God we are commanded to become servants of those we lead. An apostle, elder, pastor, husband or any other leader may not act any differently to Jesus, who never forces anyone to submit to Him. Jesus gives instructions and then allows His disciples to obey or disobey Him. He never threatens, manipulates or coerces them. More wonderful He never rejects or stops loving them when they disobey Him.
When James and John were hoping to sit on the right and left hands of power, they were still immature with worldly concepts of leadership and authority. They had not yet attained the servant mind of Christ. Their unrenewed minds were competitive so they were maneuvering for senior positions. Likewise the other disciples, who became indignant at their request. (Matt. 20:24)
So Jesus called them together and taught them the difference between worldly authority and authority in His Kingdom, revealing their totally different nature and spirit. We may paraphrase what Jesus said as follows:-
“You know how authority is wielded in the world system, but in My Kingdom it is not like that. You must learn to be servants of those you lead and teach, and you may not exercise your authority by appealing to your office, your ministry, or anything, in order to make others submit to you. You may not use the promise of reward or promotion or status to manipulate people as it is done in the world. The Kingdom of God does not function like that. You may only serve and lay down your desires and life for the good of others, just as I am demonstrating by my own life and teaching.” (Matt.20:25- 28)
Jesus is our “pattern son” and we never see Him coercing, manipulating or forcing anyone to obey Him or follow Him. He boldly proclaimed the Word of God and if His Word was rejected He made no attempt to enforce it, or beg people to follow Him. Never does He use His spiritual authority to control others in any way. Likewise, the Holy Spirit never controls us or takes away our decision-making process. He will guide and lead but never over-rules our slightest resistance to Him.
God is Love and He waits for us to voluntarily submit to Him only because we love and respect Him. Leaders in the Body of Christ are not above their Master and they too must wait until others voluntarily submit to them out of love and respect, and because the anointing of God upon them is recognized.
Spiritual authority is something that the King forbids us to use in order to enforce unwilling submission. Whether you are an apostle, pastor, elder, bishop or a husband giving headship to a family, you are limited by the same commands of Jesus, if He is your Lord and Master.
The New Testament clearly teaches us to obey our leaders and to submit to their authority. It is therefore very easy to produce by biblical theology a wrong understanding of Church government, which will produce autocratic leadership, and subservient followers, who do not understand the nature and spirit of Kingdom authority.
While scripture exhorts believers to obey those that care for their souls, it does not exhort leaders to demand submission of others to their leadership or ministry. Husbands are exhorted to love their wives, not to demand submission or enforce their wills and dominate their wives. It is only the wife who is enjoined to submit to her own husband.
To “rule well” in the Kingdom of God is very different to being a ruler or authority in the world system, but since worldliness has invaded every religious system, we find many Christians in leadership behaving like worldly authorities. Some husbands dominate their wives, destroying many a Christian woman’s decision-making ability, and in some cases destroying their marriages. Satan triumphs and the poor, deceived couple have their lives destroyed, simply because of ignorance about Godly spiritual authority.
Pastors, elders or deacons in most church structures take affront if opposed by members of the flock. Status is sought and guarded, while power is wielded to make others conform. There is little difference between such churches and a worldly business structure. If the Chairman or Directors make decisions, then dismissal results if the employees do not agree and obey. In the churches there are various forms of excommunication that are applied, using the same worldly philosophy.
In the Kingdom of God THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CLERGY AND LAITY. This concept is in direct conflict with the New Testament teaching that all God’s children are priests, with direct access to God. It is only heathen who need priests to approach God on their behalf. It is only in Babylon that clergy exist, dividing God’s family into classes, and allowing the mind of Satan to control the minds of those in captivity. (Emphasis mine!! This is a monumental source of deception in today’s Church and until all Christians are able to see with their spiritual eyes and hear with their spiritual ears that this is indeed the case, the concept of authority and its enforcement will be completely misunderstood and misapplied within the Church)
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are not clergy, but simply men and women in the body of Christ. We cannot manufacture those gifted people and produce them like we produce professional lawyers or doctors. Only God can anoint and give us these essential members of His church, but we need discernment to recognize them.
The clerical hierarchies which function in other religious systems have no rightful place in the church of Jesus Christ. The division of clergy and laity found in Islam and Judaism produce structures, which however functional, are opposed to God’s design for His church. She is to be a living organism, not a religious organization.