“Obey your leaders, and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as giving an account, in order that they may do this with joy and not groaning, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17 EMTV).
We appreciate receiving your letter on this particular topic, submission, although by the sounds of your next two letters, you will not likely appreciate what we give you from Jesus Christ (Yehoshuah HaMashiach). You write:
“Recently, I referred your website to a friend, who found caution (and I agree) with the following words penned by you:
‘Come, submit to me, follow me and you will know that I speak the truth (by the grace of God because I am a mere man saved from sin myself), because you will find rest, peace, purpose, prosperity’.”
Those words consist of a call, a promise, an invite to try, a confession of unworthiness in and of myself, and a guarantee. All that is needful is there. That you would ask this question is understandable. For one, there has been much abuse of authority, and those calling for submission seldom have a right to do so. Secondly, and more to the point, the word “submit” is a swear word to the carnal man, who thinks that all ought to submit to him and that he ought not submit to anyone! That is the proud and rebellious nature of the flesh, that sinful nature of which all are partakers. This is the kind of teaching you have been receiving and accepting.
Nominal churches and ordained-of-men pastors on the whole fear to use the word. This is particularly so when speaking of one submitting to another human being as an authority or leader, whether to a stranger (as with Nathanael when he first came to the Lord, who submitted though he had not known Jesus theretofore), or to one with whom he or she is familiar (as when those who knew Jesus and His family, and thought He was presumptuous – “a prophet is not recognized among His own people”), or one perceived to be unimpressive, inferior, or unworthy, as was the case with Jesus, according to Isaiah:
“He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as it were a hiding of faces from Him, He being despised, and we esteemed Him not” (Isaiah 53:3 MKJV).
Essentially, man finds it impossible to submit to God, and therefore to one who is sent of God to represent His interests, to declare the Truth, the Law, and will of God to the world, especially when the one sent declares he is sent, as Jesus and Paul did, and as we do. Invariably, a red flag goes up. Truly, a messenger sent of God is uncommon, but he is a lone one among many voices claiming they are sent of God but are not. Your question is particularly common amongst evangelicals who, having escaped the power of Rome and other tyrannical religious authorities, past and present, believe in the “priesthood of the believer,” though not by God’s definition or from His perspective. The rebellious heart has its preferred definitions.
You mention the tone of the words. Tone is often in the ears of the hearer, is it not? And so you ask. However, you and your friend will not want to hear all that we have to say on this matter, not if you are in the flesh and clinging to independence from God, as you are and do. Many love knowledge and think to fulfill their duty to God by it, but few walk in it by the cross, which is the only way if one will have eternal life.
It is not about doctrine, Anna. Obviously doctrine is of utmost importance, like tires on a car, or even the engine (the car is useless for mobility without them), but tires are not the Driver or the passengers. You mistake the tires for the Driver, placing the doctrine above the Lord Jesus Christ (Yashua) and His brethren. While we did not have all the right doctrines many years ago, we still had fellowship with the Lord, walking in the Light we were given, and we had fellowship with others in the Spirit, though they did not agree with us on some doctrines, nor we with them on all of theirs. And while there are true and false doctrines (inflated tires and flat), some important and some silly, if not pernicious (all of which will eventually be sifted and sorted, established or discarded), life in Christ is not about doctrine but about Him, as the Person, and about fellowship in the Spirit and in Truth with all who are His.
Neither can it necessarily be told if one is His or not by the doctrine, depending on what it is. Judgment after the appearance is often erroneous, and this is how you err. For example, I once believed in one of the greatest lies ever told, which assassinates the character of God, that of eventual eternal torment for the majority of mankind. Did God reject me for it? Did all saints reject me for it? Not at all. But they patiently shared with me and God opened my heart to advance in knowledge of Him and His ways. Had they walked off as you have a disposition and tendency to do, where would I be? You are not right at all.
We are not here to feed any from the Tree of Knowledge, merely teaching them good and evil, or to speak that which people enjoy or prefer. We are here to teach that which will bring people to God, and to have and to enjoy life as He intended, here on earth, through faith and obedience to Him.
We force nobody to submit; we demand nobody to submit, and we don’t even require anyone to submit. If it is not given them to obey the Lord, they go their way. What have we to do with those who determine to walk in the flesh and keep their pride? The words you question plainly express a call and not a demand. Those who hear it and receive it are thankful. It is not a problem to them. Those who have a problem with it will refuse to hear, and so they continue in their chosen paths, which never prosper.
Though our site is filled with the substance of submission to, and in, the Lord, at least indirectly, we take this opportunity, as presented by your participation and questions, to teach, by God’s grace, on submission more specifically and comprehensively.
A Vision of Godly Submission and Order
Let me tell you of a general experience we, the core of our body (church), have had here together, leading from “every man doing that which was right in his own eyes” to a peaceful, harmonious, strongly and soberly joyful, spiritually and physically productive body of believers under the authority of God, as exercised by Him through me (and not me “through Him,” as you may suppose).
On April 12, 1998, about 3:30 AM, I had a vision wherein I saw a large, oblong boulder laying on the ground. It represented a person, and I was that person. The “head” of the boulder was at the right side. At my head were six or seven other similar boulders laying all about the grounds, in scattered array and various positions.
I then saw all those other boulders rise up and make their way along the far side of me (the central boulder) to the other end (my foot), and lean forward toward me, in harmony, at about a sixty-degree angle to the ground. They were in a straight-lined formation perpendicular to the line in which my body lay. Their leaning forward was one of obeisance. The boulder that represented me lay entirely still throughout the vision. I hadn’t moved.
That day, seven new people – three couples and a single woman, paid us a spiritual visit at the farm. At the time, I thought the visitors were those boulders, seeing I had the vision the day they came. I was wrong. A few years later, once the work was done (the vision fulfilled), the Lord revealed to me that the people of our group were those boulders, and they have now been corrected to honor and obey me as their spiritual elder under, and in, our Elder Brother, Yehoshuah HaMashiach (Jesus Christ), whereas they were previously doing their own thing in all manner of selfish, hardhearted, irresponsible, and ungodly behavior. (I also needed and received the fires of preparation, all thanks and praise to the Lord.)
Years before, I spoke these words one night: “You are He that divides us as wood, and casts us into the fire.” I was unsettled by them, pondered them and, in due time, they came to pass, to be pondered no more. Many did not make it through those fires.
Now it was God Who did this work. I had been totally frustrated with our whole situation and the people – my wife, Paul and Lois among them. While I had a “vision” of what the Lord wanted of us and of how good it could be for us if we were submitted to His will, in order and true, godly unity, it was not happening, to make an understatement. There was absolutely nothing I could do about it because it required nothing less than a change of heart for all of us (though several of us were already believers), which only God could accomplish, and He did, by putting us through the fires. Now we can understand and rejoice in these words:
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment on the head that ran down on the beard, Aaron’s beard, that went down to the mouth of his garments; like the dew of Hermon that came down on the mountains of Zion; for there Jehovah commanded the blessing, life forevermore” (Psalms 133:1-3 MKJV).
Those words do not become real by singing or reciting them. They do not come by wishing, imagining, or by works; they do not come by man’s power. They come by the Lord’s deep and thorough correction, by the chastening, purifying fires of the Lord and His unmerited favor.
In those fires, which lasted several years, we learned the spiritual reality and true, Godly substance of authority, obedience and submission, all words you and your friend may hate to hear in your chosen indoctrination and erring perspective, Anna. We know whereof we speak, and we understand.
For better or worse, the lengthiness of this document is a common thing for us, partly because we consider that the reply is not only for those to whom we personally write, but is for many. Partly it is because we take the opportunity to bring forth other truths for the sake of all. Perhaps most importantly, it is because we write as moved and given to write, without logical explanation for why we do so.
We know that what we speak is wholesome food. Those interested and desirous of instruction in truth will feed and rejoice. We hope you will receive it, and that it will serve you and your friend well, so that you will continue to be “uplifted and encouraged,” as you say you are when reading the rest of our instruction in the Lord. The problem is that unless you walk in what we teach, it is of no value to you, no matter how “uplifted and encouraged” you may be.
Many assume they know what we are saying and are often mistaken. This is to be expected. For that reason, I have often contemplated taking the statement you quote out of the writing. You and your friend are not the only ones having had a problem with it; among others, so have I. But I have concluded that God has given me to write what I have written. God will make known what He means to those He calls and chooses, and they will not balk at submitting or obeying.
Jesus also said things that seemed outrageously arrogant and presumptuous to those who did not believe, and it might have seemed wiser to tone down on those things, but He had to say them. For example:
“Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I should say I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I know Him and I keep His Word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and He saw and was glad” (John 8:55-56 MKJV).
Did He have to say all that and so much more? Could He not have avoided some offense? You may say, “Yes, but that was Jesus; we are not Him.” Yet, in coming as an ordinary man, in human form and weakness, did people know it was He? Some did; most did not. Was it so obvious to them? Would you and I have known without the Scriptures, teaching and hindsight?
Would we have called Him “Lord”? What is calling Jesus “Lord” all about, if it is not about submitting to His rulership, which is surely manifest in His appointed servants?
The people were compelled to receive Him by the Truth He spoke and the works He did, and not by any carnal superiority, charisma or proofs. And they were compelled to “get over” some obstacles such as He presented them, as in the words I just quoted. Many simply could not do it, and said to Him, “By what authority…” or in our words today, “Just who do you think you are?” Is this any different than what you are saying?
As His servants, we are as He, and, therefore, if anointed by Him, we are He Who speaks, even as He said, but which many professing His Name do not believe:
“Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you. As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you” (John 20:21 MKJV).
“Truly, truly, I say to you, He who receives whomever I send receives Me. And he who receives Me receives Him Who sent Me” (John 13:20 MKJV).
Do not the men of God speak God’s words? John said:
“We are of God. He who knows God hears us. The one who is not of God does not hear us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6 MKJV).
Is Jesus not Lord by and through His disciples? Tell me, Anna, would you and your friend question the Lord if He were to ask you to submit to Him? Do you not think He would do it?
“Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 MKJV).
The Difference Is in the Motive
Of course, you should know that it is not so much what is said, but why it is said, and by whom. Yes, there has been great abuse of authority in nominal Christendom. Many presumptuous persons come with ignorance and self-serving intent, calling for submission, speaking truths (not Truth) in the Name of the Lord, thus shipwrecking and enslaving many. However, I find the preponderance of false teachers do not call for submission, for fear of spooking their would-be followers. Take so many nominal churches, for example; the internet teems with such teachers of every description.
The serpent spoke truths as well as lies to Eve but did not ask for submission. He did not say, as Jesus, “Come and follow me.” However, Satan spoke true things to Jesus and did, with bribery, ask Him to worship him. So there are both. But though the serpent did not ask Eve to submit to him, did it matter? She and her husband became his slaves all the same, and we with them.
Satan often speaks true words to many – not to redeem, of course, but to deceive, to keep in bondage, to capture and destroy. Lies are lies by intent as often as, or more often than, by the words that compose them. False prophets and teachers come deceiving by speaking true things in kind, considerate and gentle words, otherwise how will they “deceive, if possible, the very elect”? Many false teachers have come speaking the very words you are asking us about; many more have not, and have prevailed over the simple. Read The Nature of Deception.
But you should not allow the influence or apparent success of evil to defile the truth and work of good. After all, a part of the enemy’s strategy is to derail one in his or her spiritual journey, to establish skepticism, discouragement, distrust, confusion and unbelief in the spiritual pilgrim’s heart and soul. The enemy embitters, if not poisons, the well, with the intent that those drinking it will be turned off with all water, when it is not the water that is the problem.
The enemy is there, under the Lord’s sovereign hand, to sift and to prove the pilgrim, even as Satan did with Job. But let us not fear the enemy; it is God Who is to be feared. Job knew that. Not once did he mention Satan. He knew “where the buck stopped.”
And let us not blame the enemy for our failure(s). The guilt is with the one that chooses the serpent’s enticing, flesh-preserving influence:
“But each one is tempted by his lusts, being drawn away and seduced by them. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin. And sin, when it is fully formed, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15 MKJV).
Another interesting point on submission and obedience: Even Satan obeyed God. When God told him to do what he needed to do, Satan went and did it, and he did not do it grudgingly.
If you think honestly about it, there really is nothing at all wrong with the words, “Come and submit to me.” Only abuse, ill experience, evil thinking, and stubbornness have made them to be perceived as wrong.
“To the pure all things are pure. But to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God, but in their works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient and reprobate to every good work” (Titus 1:15-16 MKJV).
The Scriptures declare a validity of my call to submission, and you have acknowledged as much, substantiating your words somewhat by the Scriptures. It is only a matter of who has the right to speak those words or why he speaks them. Therein lies the problem, yet not a big one for those who believe. While none of us is wise enough to know the difference, the Lord gives wisdom and discernment to those that ask and to whom He will. His sheep hear His voice, and they will not follow a stranger.
Many things will not make sense to the carnal man, who not only will not be able to understand, but will not want to understand. Spiritual Reality and Truth of God will be repugnant to him or her. The flesh lusts against the spirit and will not submit.
I am confident that those who truly seek after the Lord and are prepared to take up the cross will not be intimidated or confounded by the truth. Those who come to serve themselves in Christ’s Name or any other will not be able to deceive them. The Shepherd will keep those whom He ordains to be His. He won’t lose so much as one.
If there is anything I can say about the Lord Jesus Christ, it is that He is perfectly faithful, turning none away, forsaking none. He has proven Himself to be so in the Scriptures and, more importantly, with, and to, us in reality. He has manifested Himself, as He promised He would, to those who love and obey Him.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him” (John 14:21 MKJV).
That is boldly and solemnly mentioned in my words you quote and by which you question my authority in Christ.
Have you not already answered your own question, Anna? You gave examples of words that the apostle Paul spoke to the Corinthians, which precisely express what I mean by my words. However, allow me to confirm and clarify some things for you and your friend’s sake. You obviously need understanding on the nature of submission in Christ or you would not be enquiring (I don’t, however, believe your asking is merely because of need of clarification – and your following letters confirm my suspicion).
Submission to All, Beginning with Earthly Authorities
How far do we go on this subject? Where do we begin? Let’s start at the very bottom of the pecking order, whether you can bear it or not. Even in the world, the Lord has ordained submission of believers to earthly authorities:
“Let every soul be subject to the higher authorities. For there is no authority but of God; the authorities that exist are ordained by God. So that the one resisting the authority resists the ordinance of God; and the ones who resist will receive judgment to themselves. For the rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the bad. And do you desire to be not afraid of the authority? Do the good, and you shall have praise from it. For it is a servant of God to you for good. For if you practice evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword in vain; for it is a servant of God, a revenger for wrath on him who does evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes. For they are God’s servants, always giving attention to this very thing. Therefore give to all their dues; to the one due tax, the tax; tribute to whom tribute is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13:1-7 MKJV).
Would anyone rightly argue against the wisdom and value of submission to any authority, even the least? We are called upon to do it every day.
Paul calls on Christian servants, slaves, and employees to submit to authority:
“Slaves, obey your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service as to the Lord and not to men (knowing that whatever good thing he does, he shall receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or a freeman)” (Ephesians 6:5-8 MKJV).
“Slaves, obey your masters according to the flesh in all things; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men; knowing that from the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance. For you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:22-24 MKJV).
Note that Paul did not advise masters to obey their servants but that servants should obey their masters, whether masters believed or not, and especially if they did believe:
“So then as we have time, let us work good toward all, especially toward those of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10 MKJV).
Submission Within the Body of Christ
Let us now take submission into the context of the Body of Christ and God’s Kingdom. For one thing, you speak of two kinds of submission. One is the general submission to one another in Christ, as you cite. This submission is, of course, true and valid. The trouble is that those who resist submission to authorities Christ places over them use the example of general submission as an escape clause or a proof text to absolve themselves.
Be that as it may, it is legitimate. Though I am in authority as a servant under Him, there is not one person (in our immediate fellowship or otherwise) that I can rightly refuse or ignore (without damage to all), not even you, if the Lord determines to speak or minister through him or her to me, which He has often done.
In this kind of submission, the Lord may speak by a mature believer, as with Nathan to King David (2 Samuel 12) or the prophet Agabus to Paul (Acts 21:10-12).
It may be a young or new believer the Lord chooses as His mouthpiece:
“Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings You have ordained strength, because of ones vexing You, to cause the enemy and the avenger to cease” (Psalms 8:2 MKJV).
While this example may not appear to speak of submission, I believe it speaks of believing and reacting rightly to that which is spoken by another. In that way, we submit to one another, not because we tell one another what to do, but because we receive from one another and act accordingly.
The Lord may speak by one with whom I am familiar or by an outward stranger:
“Do not be forgetful of hospitality, for by this some have entertained angels (messengers) without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2 MKJV).
Why does God send messengers (be they human or spirits from Heaven)? Is it to entertain the visited? Is it to secretly test them in general, or is it to give them specific and much needed direction, as for examples with Samson’s parents before his birth (Judges 13) and with Abraham and his three visitors? How about Lot and his family, whom the messengers compelled by taking them by the hand? Is that requiring or demanding? Did YHWH not send them? Would they not conduct themselves as He would have them do? Anna, you do not know the Scriptures or the power thereof, so you see only what you want to see.
He may use an “apprentice,” even as a child, as with Samuel and Eli (1 Samuel 3), or Jeremiah, who, as but a youth, was sent to the children of Israel to command them what to do, which they refused, despising the cross.
Though I have authority as a carnal elder (having due respect by reason of age or worldly position, such as that of a husband or a father), or if I have authority as a spiritual elder (having due honor by calling and anointing of God), I am called to receive the same air and blood in the Body and share those common elements with all, giving and receiving.
When my son was as young as five or six, God gave him wisdom on several occasions to minister to us, and I could only prosper by submitting to what God chose to give us by him. Was he calling for submission to himself for his own sake? No. By God’s grace, neither do I. But he was speaking truth that I needed to receive. He, wittingly or otherwise, specifically or otherwise, was calling for submission to the Lord. That is the general submission of which you speak. You see, it is the Truth coming forth from the vessel that is the issue, and not the vessel. Receiving the Truth, we prosper; resisting, we lose.
The second category of submission is more specific and personal, in that God has an order with ministries, elders and various authorities in His Church and Kingdom, to whom He requires that His sheep, servants, sons and daughters submit:
“Obey your leaders, and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as giving an account, in order that they may do this with joy and not groaning, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17 EMTV).
God may choose to speak to me (and often has) by my wife, who, the Scriptures teach, is to submit to me – her husband and head. So there we mention, in one sentence, both kinds of submission: My general submission to what she has been given by God, and her personal submission to me as her head.
Though I must submit to my flesh-and-blood son in the Lord, no matter how young he may be, note that Paul advised children to obey their parents; he did not counsel parents to obey their children, therefore this is an example of the specific submission to those in authority:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1 MKJV).
“Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20 MKJV).
Did Paul Contradict Himself?
Was Paul not aware of “the priesthood of the believer”?
Again, Paul did not counsel husbands to submit to wives:
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24 MKJV).
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as is becoming in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18 MKJV).
Do you submit to your husband or do you think you two are on equal footing in authority? Is he in authority as you contact and question us? Is he also deceived or unlearned on these matters as are you? I should think so.
Are not wives believers, or are they considered somehow inferior? Are not slaves or Gentiles (Greeks) believers, or are they considered inferior in Christ? The answer is “no.” Are they not members of the Body? Paul said:
“For as many as were baptized into Christ, you put on Christ. There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is no male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28 MKJV).
Yet this same man of God, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, taught that wives were to submit to their husbands, and he taught that slaves, servants or employees ought to submit to their superiors, and not to one another in all-inclusive terms.
Do the Scriptures Contradict Themselves?
Was Paul, as some ignorantly surmise and teach, evolving in his understanding, so that we allow that at times he did not know what he was talking about, even as he wrote what we now know to be “God’s Word”? Was he ever speaking in ignorance? If so, how then can we trust the Scriptures or their Author? If Truth evolves and changes, how can we be sure of anything? No, Jesus Christ commissioned and anointed Paul and the others to write the Truth, that we might be surely guided. Jesus Christ is the Truth, “the same yesterday and today and forever,” and He is what the Scriptures are all about. He is faithful and His Record is faithful. We can be sure of that.
James and (Note, “James and…”) the elders told the Gentiles what was required of them. Why was James specified and none other? Could it be that he had ultimate leadership responsibility? Someone did.
Paul told others what to do. Who was he to appoint elders? Perhaps elders should have appointed him and taken over his job, even as the sons of Korah thought to do with Moses and were destroyed (Numbers 16)?
When we read the passages on rulers in the Gospels, Hebrews and elsewhere as not lording it over others but rather as being examples to them, we need to understand the essence of true authority and submission. I am always telling people what to do, though I receive counsel from them; Paul is telling Sara and others what to do, though he receives her counsel and theirs; Mark tells others at the farm what to do, Lois tells others what to do, and we all expect to be obeyed and respected, and we all receive counsel from one another. But those in our keeping do not tell us what to do, anymore than the disciples told Jesus what to do. How should or could it be otherwise?
The Example of the Lord
Jesus was often telling the disciples what to do. Was that “lording it over them”? “Go to those cities; Take nothing with you; Bring him to Me; Get the ass for Me; Go tell the man we need the room for the supper; Go catch the fish and pay the taxes; Cast the net on the other side; Let the dead bury the dead and come and follow Me….”
One may argue that Jesus is Lord and that He alone has the right to tell others what to do, but didn’t Jesus say He came to minister rather than be ministered to? What then was He telling others to do? What kind of example? He washed their feet to demonstrate that truth of servanthood. Would you say He was contradicting Himself when giving all those commands? In the years you have been exposed to our doctrine, have I washed your feet or soiled them? Have you washed mine?
What does it mean to “lord it over others”? It means to use others for one’s own benefit. It does not mean telling them what to do. As is often the case, it is not the act but the spirit and motive, and God knows and judges the heart.
But the proud and rebellious “believer” will not hear these things. Any rationale or excuse will do to refuse Truth’s authority and cling to deadly independence. The ringing, spiritual cry of the children of iniquity is, “You are not going to tell me what to do!” These will find fault not only with the Law of God, the truth or principle, but also with those persons He appoints in various capacities, to whom they ought to submit unconditionally:
“Yet in just the same way these dreamers also pollute the body, while they set authority at naught and speak evil of dignities” (Jude 1:8 WNT).
“But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed; they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities” (2 Peter 2:10 Webster).
Face Things as They Are
Let me relate an experience I had not long ago. We own an organic farm, as you may know (www.HarvestHaven.com). We had a young, nonChristian girl washing some folding chairs for us. I came by and saw she was missing spots, so I showed her what she needed to do. I was not unkind about it, nor was I, admittedly, tender and sweet. To me it was fair language, matter-of-fact, and even helpful. But after she was done, she went away to another duty, sulking. A time came when her feelings were exposed on another matter. I asked her what was bothering her. She blurted out that she did not like the way I told her to wash the chairs. “You should have asked me instead of telling me. You talked as though you were an employer and I was an employee!”
What? Was I not the employer and was she not the employee? If she was not doing her job for whatever reason, did I not have the right or duty to ask (or tell) her to do it properly? While I was taken aback by her reaction, I was not entirely surprised, knowing that many in the world have an ego problem. They insist on being treated as, or better than, equals. Why can people not accept that we are not all equals, whether in position, status, ability or whatever? Was I asking her for a favor? I wonder how she would talk to those serving her, whom she was paying to do things acceptably, if she found them falling short? Perhaps she would talk to them as equals; I don’t know but I doubt it. How can anyone who despises authority exercise it?
The point is that children of pride cannot countenance humility, much less humiliation, even as Christ suffered humiliation for our sakes, and calls on us to follow Him likewise. It certainly ought not to be so with those who profess love of, and faith in, the Lord Jesus Christ.
At the appointed time, did Jesus make conditions with the Father? Did He say, “Okay, I will do this, provided that You…” No, He made no suggestion, much less requested a condition. He only said, “Father, if there is any other way…nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.” He trusted, and obeyed. He submitted.
Faith, Humility and Submission Are One
But we are called to humble ourselves and count ourselves unworthy. That is the true faith. Here is the Lord’s definition of submission and faith (they are one):
“And the apostles said to the Lord, Give us more faith. And the Lord said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you might say to this sycamine tree, Be rooted up and be planted in the sea! And it would obey you. But which of you who has a servant plowing or feeding will say to him immediately after he has come from the field, Come, recline? Will he not say to him, Prepare something so that I may eat, and gird yourself and serve me until I eat and drink. And afterward you shall eat and drink. Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you shall have done all the things commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants, for we have done what we ought to do” (Luke 17:5-10 MKJV).
That is faith, Jesus says – humbly submitting, without expecting anything in return. Do we think we are doing God any favors by submitting to His servants? Or should we recognize that He is mercifully granting us much needed salvation, using them to do it, and that we ought to be eternally grateful for it? Is it any great thing then to embrace submission to His Lordship? One of the marks of faith is gratefulness. How many are grateful instead of sensitive, skeptical, or even indignant?
Men of God Obscure to Unbelievers
The problem with many who take on the Name of the Lord is that they do not know whom to trust because they do not trust Him. Not trusting Him, they are deceived by false teachers. In their lack of faith, they cannot tell the true from the false; they do not discern between a true shepherd and a false. Being in such a dilemma, they will ever choose the false; it seems almost inevitable: “He that is not with Me is against Me…” (Matthew 12:30).
Is a Plurality of Elders Necessary?
Do you honestly believe we need a plurality of elders to avoid abuse of authority? (Notice that you seem to accept the validity of someone asking others for submission, allowing that there are several in authority to balance one another as they do so.) But plurality is no guarantee of anything. Do we need plurality of leadership in the home? Is my wife my head as I am hers? Is my son of equal authority in our home? Does a body have more than one head? Such an occurrence is naturally deemed a monstrosity. You say, “Jesus is the Head,” and He is, but if He is the Head, why does He then appoint me as head of my wife in my home, and why is Jonathan required to obey both her and me, his parents? It is no different in the Church, of which my wife is also a member.
Did Moses fail with God’s plan because he did not have equals to judge Israel? His father-in-law recommended that he delegate his burdens of responsibility to several others, not to safeguard his son-in-law from being deceived and corrupted but to help him. Even so, Moses was the final authority. He was but one man, yet he was not corrupt, being God’s anointed servant.
It was the same with Joshua, Samuel, many judges, Elijah, Elisha and so many others. Did any of the judges of Israel have a plurality of equals to bring balance and assurance of righteousness in judgment? Did Samuel have a group of equals? What about John the Baptist? Did he need equal partners to keep himself in line? No, he alone was in the wilderness until the Word of the Lord came to him. God is quite able to deal as needed with His servants and to keep whom He chooses, prepares, equips and enables to do His will. And when John came forth, he told many what to do in no uncertain terms (you would not have appreciated him).
One may argue, “Yes, but that was under the Old Covenant; we are under the New Covenant now.” It is an unlearned argument. Otherwise, who needs elders, deacons, shepherds, prophets and apostles if “all are to submit one to another”? Why do we have Paul asking the Corinthians if they would have him come with a rod, rather than obey?
“What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and the spirit of meekness?” (1 Corinthians 4:21 MKJV)
Paul was prepared to come either way; it was up to them to choose. And he would come alone as well; he did not need a committee of elders. Again, let us take the Lord’s example.
“Plurality of leadership” is simply another thing to trust instead of God (darkness is full of many possibilities for comely idols). What good is there in a “college of cardinals”? Seventy cardinals are corrupt, as is their “supreme pontiff.” The Mormon Church has a huge plurality of elders, with “twelve apostles.” Of what good are these? Are we to trust many men of equal status or are we to trust Jesus Christ? Is any number of men better than He? Or are we trusting in statistical advantage? Cannot many agree on wrong as well as right? Did not the Jewish Sanhedrin, but for one man we know of (Joseph), crucify the Lord? Does majority rule safeguard? Does the admonition against “trusting in the arm of the flesh” speak of one person or of any number? Will ten thousand equal authorities be sufficient, or a million, or is it as the Scriptures declare, that all men are corrupt? From where does this doctrine come, if not from the prince of pride and father of rebels? (You might do well to read our “voting” papers – start with For Whom Do We Vote? and go to the links at the bottom of the writing.)
King Saul did as the people pleased, instead of exercising his rulership, because he confessedly feared them more than God (1 Samuel 15). He listened to a multitude; he practiced a perverse form of “submission one to another” in the way that many presume to do today, and it is all witchcraft and iniquity, maintaining the broad way to Hades.
Numbers are nothing; men are nothing. God is all in all. You need to trust the Lord. I know and tell you so. That is the summation of my statement for which you have requested an explanation. The problem is that the sheep must know to whom they must submit. Submission itself is not the issue. It has been made an issue by the wicked, both rulers and ruled.
Where Do We Find Submission in the Churches?
Is there submission in the mainline churches? Very little if any, and of the kind we find, it is on a mutual basis. “I will do as the pastor asks, if it suits me and if he treats me as I think he ought to.” I have never seen it in godly authenticity. Pastors are afraid to tell people what to do, lest they should diminish their numbers and income. They may ask, hint, cajole, flatter, or even beg, but they will not direct or command by the Lord, for the Lord is not with them in their people pleasing. They full well know the fickleness and pride in the hearts of those who seek to have their ears tickled. And because they are there to please, they have no authority, least of all true authority under God. Those paid salaries by men are hired by men, and are therefore hirelings. What hireling cares for what is true and right and good in God’s sight? Not one that I know of. Your teachers, apart from us (if we indeed have been your teachers) have not done you justice.
Some may appear to be sincere, ethical, honest, hard working, friendly, dedicated, and helpful, but are they doing God’s works or their own? Are they serving Him or the people? There is the erroneous notion that ministers of God are here to serve their flocks firstly. Not so; their first responsibility is to serve and obey Jesus Christ. Yes, the Son of Man came to serve rather than to be served, and so it is with His disciples and undershepherds. However, this duty is as the Lord directs and not as the servants or the sheep deem fit. Otherwise, the shepherd does his own thing, or the sheep do their thing, even ruling the shepherd, bringing confusion and eventual ruin to themselves.
Sheep have their ideas of where they wish to drink, graze or rest, but the Owner knows where He wants them. The undershepherd’s responsibility is to do the Owner’s will and to convey that direction to the Owner’s sheep and require it of them, whether they like it or not. The Owner comes by His chosen vessels. Read The Big Lie Exposed again.
I hereby express two kinds of submission to you now, Anna, though the two are essentially of one and the same spirit. If one does not submit to his or her elders, how can that one submit to any others? The heart is the same in every direction at all times.
I write that you may believe and walk in the truth, but I also tell you what to do that you might have life. In our community, there would be chaos if nobody was permitted to tell anyone what to do, and if people did not submit to their leaders as authorities, but required the leaders to submit to them. But there is no chaos, only order, because as we are given, we speak and direct. Those who have a problem with that are welcome (or should I say doomed) to go elsewhere and do as they please, fulfilling the words:
“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his eyes” (Judges 17:6 MKJV).
Curiously, these end up at times in some controlling cult, the very thing they feared, an act of God to deal with their iniquity (lawlessness). When the work is finished under the false, they will be thankful to submit to the true:
“Let not my heart turn aside to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; and let me not eat of their delicacies. Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness; and let him correct me, it is oil on my head, let not my head refuse it; for still my prayer also shall be against their wickedness. When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet” (Psalms 141:4-6 MKJV).
Thus, I say things to you and your friend that will perplex you, simply because I have not given you the commonly preferred erroneous concepts of submission and authority. Blessed are those who are not offended.
Submission to the Authority of God Brings Victory and Rest
We do not keep the external feasts of God, Anna. We are the feasts, and, especially, we have been brought into the Feast of Tabernacles, the third and final feast, as Zechariah prophesied, and what a wonderful place and state to be, not that we lord it over others but that we are in intimate fellowship with Him! That is the overcoming of which He spoke. We have overcome and now we reign with Him, even as He promised. Read The Three Degrees.
“Everyone who is left from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will come every year to worship the king, the LORD of Armies, and to celebrate the Festival of Booths. If any of the families on the earth won’t go to Jerusalem to worship the king, the LORD of Armies, then rain won’t fall on them. If the people of Egypt won’t go or enter Jerusalem, then rain won’t fall on them. The plague the LORD uses to strike the nations will affect those who won’t come to celebrate the Festival of Booths. This will be the punishment for Egypt’s sin and for the sin of all the nations that won’t go to celebrate the Festival of Booths” (Zechariah 14:16-19 GW).
You and your friend may fear the kind of persons that rule by their own power, without right or authority from God, but, more accurately, you are reluctant to submit to God. Neither should be the case. Only God is to be feared, and fearing Him means that one believes and obeys Him.
I have used the Lord’s Hebrew Name for your sake here and there to assure you we know the God of Israel, named in many languages. But in your case, what’s with the smatterings of Hebrew here and there? Is it because you think it is holy language? Either speak Hebrew or don’t speak Hebrew. Why the religious posturing? Can’t you say, “Holy Spirit” or “peace”? Why so much English and so little Hebrew if Hebrew is so good to speak? Does it make sense to speak so? Not really; think about it. Why do you do it (as so many “Messianics” do)?
Let me ask you something else: You write, “My husband and I have been reading various writings by you and Paul for the last few years, and have never been offended by anything we have read; rather we have always been uplifted and encouraged to find other like-minded worshipers of the God of Israel.”
Have you ever ministered to us, whether of spiritual or carnal substance? Is not a workman worthy of his hire? If we are such misled and immature or dominating persons, why is it you never see us asking for anything in return? Do children and charlatans labor faithfully for years with no desire or intention of reward? I don’t think so. There are perhaps four or more of us employed full time (in total) just in spiritual matters alone, in this ministry, without, Lord willing, request for compensation. Do you take these things for granted? Paul says:
“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in Word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17 MKJV).
For all the service in the Lord for which you say we are responsible, have we received any hint of honor? Are you a flatterer, one speaking loose words, or do you simply treat us as equals and not as elders in the Lord?
If even only as equals, where has been your due reciprocation? Or are we simply some unidentifiable internet nobodies to you, though you have said somewhat otherwise on behalf of yourself and your husband? Perhaps you think we are undeserving because unsolicited by you? How many of the prophets were solicited by the people, Anna? Any? One? Are we unworthy of you because we are not in your direct, physical fellowship?
And we are not asking anything of you now only for ourselves; God forbid. He is our provision and great reward, far more than ample, and we are altogether unworthy servants of His reward. I do not say that religiously, but with full, solemn conviction, having learned and knowing we deserve nothing from Him. He has been bountifully good to us.
I say these things to show you that your idea of submission and Christian conduct in general is greatly lacking, and your fruits manifest it. We ask nothing of you but a “crossful” commitment and submission to the Truth, to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel and of the world, Whom we love and serve because He first loved us and submitted Himself to the Father for our sakes. That is what we want of you, for that very cause we call on you to submit to us, but you ought to be considering that you are in considerable darkness and contradiction.
And now, after these years, you find fault with us in those words? Who are you to do so? Are you not one identified by Isaiah?:
“Those who make a man guilty by a word, and lay a trap for the reprover in the gate, and turn aside the just for a worthless thing” (Isaiah 29:21 MKJV).
But by God’s grace you and your friend will be offended with me. It seldom fails. As Jesus said:
“Strive to enter in at the narrow gate. For I say to you, many will seek to enter in and shall not be able. And once the Master of the house has risen up and has shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us, and He shall answer and say to you, I do not know you; from where are you; then you shall begin to say, We ate and drank in Your presence, and You have taught in our streets. But He shall say, I tell you, I do not know you; from where you are. Depart from Me, all workers of unrighteousness! There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you will see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God, and yourselves being thrust out” (Luke 13:24-28 MKJV).
So be it; we are not here to win a popularity contest, though we always hope for better things. Those who come to us are to be crucified for salvation. The Lord renders true judgment.
Anna, you have much to consider, medical doctor or no medical doctor. You are not dispensing natural remedies here taught by “Ruach HaKodesh,” but a few patented, synthetic drugs from the realm of “pharmakeia” (#G5332 Strong’s – look it up). We are here to minister roots to you for your health, however bitter they may be. I think Brother Luke would have things to say to you.
Concerning me, you write: “I wonder if he is even teachable in this regards, and that saddens me a bit.”
Why sadden yourself with false assumptions? Is there not enough in this world to make you sad without your making something up? If you believed, you would not be sad for this reason. “Weep not for me, but weep for yourself….” What you may mistake for arrogance and hardness of heart is conviction, based on substance – the Lord has done His job well. Nevertheless, as many here well know, I am ever prepared to re-examine and reconsider, and change. I rejoice at the thought of advancing, no matter the “crow that needs eating.” It has always served great good.
How about you?
How many times I have experienced His pain and desire in the following, particularly the bolded words:
“Go near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say; and speak to us all that the LORD our God shall speak to you; and we will hear it, and do it. And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when you spoke to me; and the LORD said to me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken to you: they have well said all that they have spoken.
“O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever” (Deuteronomy 5:27-29 Webster)!
One last note of worth to be considered:
On a fast in 1998, the Lord brought me to the place of accepting my weaknesses and infirmities as part of His plan in serving Him. This included physical, mental and spiritual elements. My journal record:
“At the end of my fast, in the last hour, at 2:50 PM of February 6… All along, I had been telling the Lord, ‘Take me or change me. I refuse to go on as I am.’ Then rather suddenly, I found myself saying, ‘Lord, I prefer to go with You, or, failing that, I ask You to give me a new body, mind, and spirit. However, if You desire that I continue with weakness and frailty (of body, soul, and spirit), so be it. Your will be done.’
“I went to the kitchen sink, while talking to the Lord, when suddenly I felt a Presence behind me. I spun around, expecting to see Him standing there. I did not see Him, but I felt Him. I did not hear an audible word, but He communicated to me. I would not recognize His message until the next day when relating the incident to Marilyn.
“The day after the fast, as I related what happened in the last hour, I suddenly realized what He said. In response to my expressed willingness to serve Him with my infirmities, the Lord silently replied, ‘I’m so glad. That is what I have been waiting to hear.’”
So, Anna, in all of this, understand that I am not saying I do not have faults, weaknesses and infirmities (I have not gotten into that in this paper). Indeed, the Lord has required me to serve Him with them, though I have deeply desired otherwise. I then, with shame at the realization, said, “Of course! How could I have been so in the dark in this? Paul had infirmities for good as well! Where have I been?”
And it continues. About two months ago I received yet another spiritual healing (I have received many over the years, being in great need) and another again – a biggee – just this past week, for which I am thankful (their times were fulfilled). We all have infirmities, elders included, for as long as needful.
The Lord has granted Paul and me wisdom and understanding for all, but especially for those with us, that they may hear the things we have of God to say to them so that they may do His will and prosper, not only for their sakes but for the sakes of many. Read their testimonies. For our part, you and your friend are free to contact any one of them independently at any time, and, Lord willing, they will be open, honest and willing to communicate. Their e-mail addresses have now been posted with their testimonies for that very purpose.
Am I foolish to make you this offer after all I have said, knowing the all-too-common, expected response? May your enquiry lead you to the Light and to true holiness.
Knowing Him Who denied Himself and submitted to the will of His Head, the Father, for us all,