Authority and Responsibility
Any expressions of authority must never be without taking responsibility for and being accountable to those we have authority over.
To understand the scriptural answers to this question of theology, the first truth one must accept and understand is that the Bible is the Holy Word of God for all of us and the church. The second truth that needs to be applied is that the Bible truths / doctrines are not negotiable and apply to all of us today: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine , for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16)
One must be willing to follow the Word of God even though at times, this will cause one to disregard “status quo” or the church traditions when they differ from Bible fact. We must drop whatever we are pursuing in beliefs, when it is made clear our past thinking transgresses holy doctrine and instructions. If we will not do so, we are committed to the “traditions of the elders” (Mark 7:5-9) 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders , but eat bread with unwashed hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition .
This is a huge topic. First of all we are not responsible for those who are not accountable to us. God given authority is a Bible given truth, as set out by:
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (1Thes. 5:12)
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. (Hebrews 13:7)
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5)
Responsibility and accountability
We have no genuine authority in the Lord, over people for whom we do not take responsibility for. Authority is ungodly when this is not accompanied with responsibility and accountability. This equation of three intertwined truths is a godly reality. All of us are to be accountable to each other. We may question and communicate at every level. When this is not an open door policy, we have a control spirit. We are accountable before God and to each other as in a marriage, in the family of God. This will work with no problems when we have a right spirit. This never allows for "do not question me." This demands accountability and a taking responsibility for and a holy attitude.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children: (1 Thessalonians 2:7) This needs to be the attitude.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (2 Timothy 2:24)
To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22)
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)
I know of one preacher who was being asked to meet and talk by a worship leader about a struggle issue they were concerned about. The preacher asked this member "are you for my ministry or not," before agreeing to any meeting, rather than "if you have a struggle, lets resolve that and talk." Prefacing a polite request to meet, with an authority control question, ended that relationship with no meeting. A pastoral care, humility of heart, or a mutual accountability was not expressed. The member felt less than loved, cared for or esteemed. An example of a negative controlling pride, without a shepherd's heart of care.
Yes we uphold and honor authority over us. This includes eldership submitting one to another. We will never see a proper fivefold ministry church with a multiple eldership unless we learn to submit horizontally to fellow eldership and the church as well. Submission does not mean we do not recognize our or other's placement in the body. What the apostle Peter stated after explaining that he as a called apostle was also an elder is extremely important.
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5) I believe Peter included himself in the "all" directive. All submit one to another is a Bible directive. Yet we acknowledge those in authority. In the church there are no "nobody's." Everyone has a voice and may speak with a right spirit, without insubordination. (Acts 15:22) Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; Note the inclusion of "the church."
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13) We are to serve upholding godliness, with holy truth principles, and not become dictators.
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. (Mathew 23:8) We are all to be accountable to each other, yet respect authority.
Nicolaitan spirit, wrong authority
Twice in the letters to the churches, our Savior and Lord stated that there was something He hated. "I hate" is a rare statement by our Lord. ---- But you have this, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (Rev. 2:6) -----So you also have those who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. (Rev. 2:15)
In the Greek a Nicolaitan is a follower or adherent, of Nicolai. Nicolai is a conqueror of the people. We have numerous Nicolaitan ministers today. They become mini gods. Do not earn their displeasure, or they will claim the wrath of God will be upon you.
They usually do not want to be questioned in their decision processes, of wherefore, what for or why. All have a right to respectfully understand and to ask questions. These Nicolaitans can usually be discerned by having placed themselves far above the believer populace. They will not demonstrate a building up of other elders and ministers in their local body, to whom they themselves will also be accountable to.
Nicolaitans usually demand a one way accountability to themselves. God hates that. This takes away from leading people to be accountable to God and is a spirit of control. Yes we should respect elders and authority placement, but never be controlled. A godly ministry will always direct people in a gentle way as a brother or sister to always honor God and His authority. They will desire communication to bring understanding in all matters, applying godly principles. However, they may be firm with dissidents.
As an apostle, knowing my Christ appointed calling, I am prepared to submit to all true believers, yet know my responsibility and authority. The Holy Spirit has taught me that I am never again to submit to any person or ministry without a covenant walk of "mutual accountability," thereby denying a spirit of control.
The Bible and especially the New Testament (covenant), clearly sets out numerous truths regarding collegial (plural, mutual, uncompetitive) eldership, which is mostly disregarded today. The following are a number of scriptural truths and examples.
1. For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you. Here we clearly see that a church without a plurality eldership was lacking. (Titus 1:5)
2. From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: It is clear that Paul addressed all of these plural elders, acknowledging their collegial placement of authority with responsibility. They demonstrated their accountability by attending as Paul requested. All were addressed as elders, with no separation of fivefold minister callings. In reality, this is a great example given of a true and functional fivefold church. (Acts 20:17)
1. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. All of these elders (plural –collegial), were to feed the flock and take oversight of the flock. All true elders are to teach and preach, sharing Holy Word truths. They should not be received as an elder when this is not their functional capability and responsibility. (Acts 20:28)
2. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea: 30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders. All of the elders were a plurality eldership, in collegial authority over the church and finances. (Acts 11:29, 5: 29)
Elders were 5-fold callings and others as well
1. The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight. The elders were the available five Christ appointed callings, or those who desire to function as elders, due to being burdened to feed and oversee the flock. (1 Pet. 5:1, 1 Timothy 3:1)
2. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; [namely], Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: These were among the elder leadership. (Acts 15:22)
3. V32, And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. These previously named elders, were in fact prophets. (five times it states the church had oversight by “the apostles and elders." This included these prophets as well as other fivefold minister callings as well, (or, one must conclude there were no pastors, teachers or evangelists in Jerusalem).
4. This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. – any man could be an elder, if qualified. The creation of elders is a work of the Holy Spirit, placing a burden and vision within them for the needs of the flock. (Acts 20:28) Therefore the Jerusalem elders may well have had included some none 5-fold elders in the leadership. (1 Timothy 3:1)
Also consider the directive Paul gave to Titus in chapter 1:5. Titus was told to ordain elders. He was not told to discern if there were any of the five Christ appointed callings in Crete or all of the churches. To ordain elders, Titus would have to spend time with the elder candidates to impart knowledge and spiritual growth in these potential elders. He would not ordain novices or good business people, which would be contrary to God's Word. Elders can be discerned by their burdened hearts for the flock, with their concern to shepherd and guard the weak and needy.
Elders submitting one to another
1. The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away. 5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: The plural collegial elders were (and are) to submit themselves one to another. (1 Peter 5:1)
2. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. --- All of the elders were involved in considering and weighing the truth of a church doctrine along with the apostle headship. (submitted to one another) May this be today! (Acts 15:6)
Authority in leadership
1. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: --- Christ gave a banquet table five ministry callings. All of these were given for the work of the ministry, to mature the saints. Each provided differing spiritual impartation strengths, appropriate to the differing callings. (Eph. 4:8,11)
2. And 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. --- Christ set a Holy Word documented, 1st 2nd & 3rd authority structure in place to achieve His desired church and results. (1 Corinthians 12:18, 28)
Conclusions and observations: Why is this is not followed? ----Only a rebellious ministry and people will want to disregard these scriptures.
Often this is over a wrong attitude and due to being protective over the “I” in financial issues. ---- Often this is disregarded because of a lack of esteeming other ministries and callings. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Philippians. 2:3)
Often this is working due to a wrongful pride of a ministry wanting the number ONE control position.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation. (Philippians 2:4), Often this does not work due to a ministry not wanting to look to the things of others ( Money, image, making ministry opportunity available), the Kingdom and church are being robbed due to this.
Apostle led churches
Most churches deny what is set out in 1 Corinthians 12:28, And 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. Apostles are always to lead and have a place in every church. Our Lord gave the original twelve and continued to constantly give more as the churches grew and expanded. Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, Silvanus and James are some of those who were added. (Acts 14:4, 14, 12:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:6, 1 Cor. 15:7)
When we do not discern and esteem the apostle, disregarding an apostle led church, we deny Christ His authority and place. He said "I gave." This is my authority placement order. Often this is not possible when some (spiritual? Ministries) disregard these directions, due to not wanting a place of submission (while preaching submission).
ONLY a God fearing, no matter what the cost, servant of Christ, wanting His total Lordship, will desire to seek how this may and MUST work. The carnal will just ignore 1 Corinthians 12:28, and other numerous scriptures as well, just as many denominations ignore the “new birth” and many Evangelicals ignore “the baptism of the Holy Spirit."
JESUS OUR LORD SAID YOU CANNOT PUT NEW WINE INTO OLD WINESKINS. Are the skins we are dealing with in our ministry roads willing to be renewed to contain “new wine”??