The Christian life is a life of submission and obedience to the Lord Jesus. It was a while back, when my wife and I were in a Bible study, discussing various topics, when the subject of accountability came up. Now, as a Christian, I have always been taught that the Christian life is a life of submission and obedience to the Lord Jesus, and by association, one of submission to authority found in church officials/employees/ministers. Many passages speak of mutual submission (Eph. 5:21 comes to mind) and of obedience to men placed into church offices.
The last few years have given me pause in the last statement I just made. No, not the last statement, – just the last phrase of that statement.
You see, I have been pondering a question!
Is a Christian Accountable to Church Leadership?
Some Ground Rules for Discussing “Christian Accountability”
If some of these questions seem to have answers that are inanely obvious, consider answering them with passages from the Bible.
Please do not post an answer that sounds like…
We have always done it that way.
It may be right, but previous practice does not justify itself! Prove your point from the Word of God.
That question is ridiculous.
Send me a ridiculously easy passage that refutes my erroneous thinking.
That question makes me so mad…..
Emotions are not the issue, truth is the issue.
Your thinking is not logical.
Someone once said “Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence”
I will overwhelm you with proof texts.
Quantity does not equal quality! Please try to focus on the specific topic being addressed.
Posting an answer that includes a short, well prepared question, has tremendous power. Many times the Lord Himself answered His antagonist with a specific, pointed question. Your mission, (should you decide to accept it), is to sharpen a question (if applicable) and/or supply a correcting Biblical teaching.
Some issues that are important in addressing the question above, and which may become topics on their own will be…
Does the Bible demand accountability to anyone?
Does the Bible define two classes of Christian – That is, clergy and layman?
Does the Bible defend the practice of salaried clergy?
Does the Bible describe the church as a business? (If not, golly, what could it be?)
Does the Bible delineate structure within the Body of Christ?
I anticipate this particular topic to have multiple posts, and I am looking for a “vibrant” discussion, so lets go!
When this question arises, ie. “Is a Christian accountable to Church Leaders?” invariably the passage in Hebrews 13 is referred to.
Therefore, as a starting point, lets consider the passage.
7 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.
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
17 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.
I have emboldened the verse under consideration. The following posts will address Hebrews 13:17, and a considered review of critical words the apostle uses in exhorting the believers he is writing to.
Following is a matrix of words that need to be considered in understanding the teaching of Hebrews 13, especially verse 17. (See end of each study for Strong’s full definitions.)
We will address each of these words in the following posts. Please return to “Considering the Bible” with me.