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Summary:

Big Idea: FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS HELP THE PERSECUTED CHURCH STAND STRONG IN THE GRACE OF GOD

H. Gordon Selfridge built up one of the world's larges department stores in London. He achieved success by being a leader, not a boss. Here is his own comparison of the two types of executives:

The boss drives his men; the leader coaches them.

The boss depends upon authority; the leader on good will.

The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm.

The boss says "I" the leader, "we".

The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown.

The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how.

The boss says "Go"; the leader says "let's go!"

Elders are to be leaders in the highest sense of the word -- that is why shepherding is such a good analogy as we saw last week.

Faithful spiritual leaders will help the persecuted church stand strong in the grace of God.

But FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS are essential as well. Elders cannot lead effectively apart from faithful followers. Important that people see the distinction in responsibility and that everyone does not consider himself to be one of the leaders -- this is the danger of plurality of elder church govt.: either the leaders will not be truly qualified and ministering at the highest standards (i.e. mediocre -- but plural); or the followers will see no distinction between themselves and the leaders.

Leaders are to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.

Saints must respect and submit to and obey and follow the example of the leaders.

Our passage simply gives the direction: SUBMIT -- familiar from the context of commendable conduct in other realms of human authority

We know that this is the best way to glorify God.

In this sphere it is the only way to fortify the church against persecution by opening the door to God's grace.

Hebrews 13:17 provides more insight into the responsibilities of followers towards their spiritual leaders: involves putting confidence in those whom God has put them under so that when the situation areises they will more readily obey such authority

Lenski: one obeys when one agrees with what he is told to do, is persuaded of its correctness and profitableness; one yields, gives up, when he has a contrary opinion

Obviously, when God's Word clearly contradicts the directives of the elders, God's Word takes precedence

Submitting in such a fashion to spiritual leaders can be a fearful thing since there is the risk of possible abuse -- but there are many more safeguards against such abuse than in the other realms (home, civil govt., workplace) -- and even in those realms undeserved suffering fulfills the will of God and finds victory and vindication

Safeguards:

1) authority rests in plurality of leaders, not just one man

guidelines for elders to be accountable to one another

2) qualifs. for elders are very imp. and must be taken seriously

people have oppty. to select a church on whatever criteria they choose; certainly the spiritual qualifs. of the leadership should be a primary consideration

3) believers still directly interact with Word of God; elders are not in some mediating position

4) other safeguards are spelled out:

don't lord it over the flock but be an example -- other things we looked at last week

MUTUAL HUMILITY -- which will be topic for next week

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