Monday in the Thirty-Second Week of Ordinary Time

Hebrews 13:7, 17

Concerning Your Leaders

I hope my readers will not be too offended if I avail myself the liberty of lifting a couple of verses out of the text to consider on their own.  Verses seven and seventeen act as bookends to a long passage that would be too lengthy for one devotion; moreover, since they concern the same subject, I thought I would take them separately.

And that subject concerns the leadership of the church.  The Preacher uses the word, “leaders,” for those who speak the word of God, rather than, “bishop,” “elder,” “pastor,” or “overseer,” any one of which being the preferred term in the New Testament for those men who exercise headship over a particular local church.  He first exhorts the Hebrews to “consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”  Apparently, these were pastors who had led holy lives consecrated to the Lord in every way; they were worthy of emulation.  Perhaps they had given themselves in martyrdom or lost everything for the sake of Christ.  And please note the connection between what these men said and what they did; that is, they were preachers and teachers of the word who put that word to the test in their own lives.  To sum, they were walking sermons.  Needless to say, this is precisely what a pastor or elder is required to be.  Nothing a pastor does will ever come before preaching the word in all its purity except living that word in all its power.

Verse seventeen provides instruction often dismissed in Baptist and similar “free churches,” which is the exhortation to obey and submit to such men.  Why?  Because they keep watch over your souls for which they have to render account one day.  And it is incumbent upon the brethren that they make this easy for their leaders that it may be a joyous task for them.  This is an area in which two factors have corrupted our thinking: 1) That since ultimate authority in a congregational church rests with the congregation, then the pastor is to obey the congregation or deacons; and, 2) The business model in which a “board of directors” evaluates the pastor based upon results, which means increasing members and revenue.  Granted, a pastor who is not doctrinally sound or living a godly life is to be removed, and he certainly should give way before those more knowledgeable than himself in, say, building design or handling money.  But to the extent he (or they) are preaching the unadulterated word of God and striving to live holy lives, they are owed both deference and submission, for as the Preacher says, that is best for both them, the hearers, AND the unity of the church.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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