Church is a Theocracy, not a Democracy: Pastoral Authority and Obedience in the church.
Biblically speaking, a church's vision and direction comes to its members from its lead pastor. God Himself gives them the direction each church is to take. Our leaders are appointed by God, and they lead us. They are supported by associate pastor's who should learn from them and support their vision, which is given from God Himself, for His purposes.
Associate pastors especially, should submit to the leader God appointed since they are elders. They should be examples of unity. They should know what God's word (the Bible) says. All pastors are shepherds and teachers. The shepherd's staff is for leading, protecting, correcting, and teaching their sheep.
Pastors must follow the word of God and teach the sheep the truth. They cannot tickle the ears of sheep who do not understand God's word. They must correct the sheep with truth, even if the sheep don't want to hear it, and even if the pastor’s hearts are broken by the spiritually immature infant sheep's tears. A partial gospel of what we want to hear is not the gospel God left for us all. A partial gospel is incomplete, and false.
Obedience is faith in action. All associate pastors should submit and follow, unless their leader is living in sin. I am so thankful that our lead pastor is one of the most godly, spiritual, knowledgeable, faithful, and obedient men of God that I have ever known. We are so blessed by his leadership.
Biblical leadership has a hierarchy. I will gladly submit to his leadership, even as stubborn as I can be, as short as I come.
God is so good to us. Blessings and grace are offered to all, but unfortunately not everyone accepts the gift. The devil can come disguised as an angel of light and mislead even men of God. If we are ever deceived, we can repent and change our ways and come back to Jesus. He loves us all that much.
Let’s go to the scriptures about submission to spiritual authority:
Ephesians 4:11-16 11So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Jesus is head of the church and He has established these offices, as well as individual people to be leaders, with authority in those offices over the church. God also has given these leaders the responsibility to serve, oversee, and establish His word and commands for His church in the earth.
Submission to spiritual authority is about a functional relationship of love and honor; to God first, then to man. Look at these two scriptures about honoring spiritual leaders:
1 Tim. 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
1 Thess. 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
The Great Commission is also something every pastor and church member needs to take seriously. And the second part is often forgotten. In the second half of the Great Commission, Jesus instructs His disciples to teach their followers “to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20, NIV). So He commands all His followers to make disciples. But we are also supposed to teach believers to obey the commands of Christ. And so, the duty of our pastors, and other church leaders, is to ensure that the congregation is indeed following the Great Commission, and teaching them to obey His commands.
Submit to your biblical leader: Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
The scripture tells us clearly to submit to our church leaders. Simply put, we are not to rebel against them and cause division within the church. Even though there may be times we do not agree with them completely, we still must learn to trust their judgment and decisions. If we believe they are in sin, then we must follow the biblical guidelines to resolve the situation set forth in Matthew 18:15–17, 1 Timothy 5:19, and other places.
Hebrews 13:17 is telling us to follow our leaders. We are to be submissive to the leaders God gives us (assuming they have the character mentioned in Hebrews 13:7). We are simply told to obey those who rule over us. When speaking on the authority of God’s Word, leaders do have a right to tell us how to live and walk after God.
We obey and submit to our leaders because God put them in a place of responsibility and accountability over us. Of course, this does not relieve individual responsibility, but it puts an additional accountability and responsibility upon leaders. Cooperative conduct is not only a joy to leaders, but it is profitable for the whole body. It is for our own sake that we should obey and submit to God appointed leaders.
Hebrew 13:7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
Christians are told to recognize and follow godly leadership in the body of Christ, leadership shown to be legitimate by faithfulness to the word of God and by godly conduct.
Paul advised Timothy along the same lines: (1 Timothy 4:16) Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
When the leaders teach God’s truth, especially on the essential doctrines and commands of the faith, we all must submit. It is not the elders’ authority, but God’s, that we must submit to. If it is an area where godly Christians may differ, we must give grace to one another to disagree.
But submission to godly leadership would require that if you disagree with the lead pastor on a secondary matter (Non-essential Doctrine), you would be disobeying God to lead a group against him. There needs to be a respect shown toward the office of those who teach God’s Word.
Paul wrote to Titus (2:15), “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority [this is a command]. Let no one disregard you.” To disregard Titus would have been to disregard God, whose word Titus preached.
Titus, and every one of God’s messengers of grace are directed to speak, exhort, and reprove (rebuke); and to do it with all authority. God’s messengers are to remember that they are messengers from a King, holding the word that brings life and turns back hell.
Let no one disregard you; means if Titus spoke with all authority, he had to back it up with his life. Titus had to live so that no one would disregard (despise) him or his message.
Jesus Himself; exemplifies the principle and benefit of submission. He demonstrated how to submit to authority.
The Bible states that He humbled Himself and became obedient to His Father’s will even unto the death of the cross (Phil 2:8).
He paid taxes to the abusive Roman government.
He submitted to the corrupt religious authorities.
He suffered grave injustice, but He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Pet 2:23).
God incarnate, Jesus Christ, could have called twelve legions of angels (Mat 26:53) but He yielded to His Father’s will.
It is impossible to properly submit to authority unless you entrust yourself to Him who judges righteously. Believing that God is sovereign, and that either here or in eternity, He will judge justly is essential to obedience to this principle.
God given authority is one of the best sources of direction for a person. Those who are self willed become confused about God’s purposes for their lives. Rebellion against God becomes manifested in the relationship with God given authority. The loss of direction (vision) for the future leads one to reject wisdom and soon they may begin destructive behavior.
Therefore, Fathers are exhorted not to exasperate or provoke their children so that they lose heart. Those who lose heart under abusive authority and become rebellious will inflict harm upon themselves and others.
Everyone submit to your elder (Lead Pastor, the under shepherd of Christ): 1 Peter 5:5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Pastors and Elders be an example to the flock: 1 Peter 5:1-4 1To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
Submit to biblical authority: Titus 3:1-2 1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
Submit to (God appointed) biblical authority: Proverbs 8:14-16 14Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have insight, I have power. 15By me kings reign and rulers issue decrees that are just; 16by me princes govern, and nobles—all who rule on earth.
Submit to biblical authority: 1 Peter 2:13-15 13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
Submit to biblical authority: Daniel 4:17 "This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of men."
Submit to Biblical Authority: Daniel 2:21 "It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.
Submit to biblical authority: Romans 13:1-2 1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Brothers and Sisters:
1) Understand the principle of biblical submission; and you’ll understand the practice of biblical submission.
2) Find a person who understands submission to authority; and you’ll see a person who is humble, full of love, unselfish, accountable, and personally responsible.
3) Just as much as a church needs godly leaders; it also needs godly followers.
In conclusion: Pastors, do not allow yourselves to be accumulated for this: 2 Timothy 4:1-5 1I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Pastors must be ready in the word. We must teach the flock with the full truth from God. We cannot allow ourselves to become overcome with emotionalism; that somehow, overrides our responsibility to teach the full gospel in its full truth.
Pastors cannot become "ear scratchers." The devil comes disguised as an angel of light. Do not be deceived. Sin, wrapped in a beautiful wrapping, is still sin; which is separation from; and disobedience too; God Himself.
Romans 13:1-2 1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
As we can see clearly from Romans 13:1-2; those who oppose biblical authority don't oppose man; they oppose God.