Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Hebrews: The Superiority Of Christ To Errant Religions
Part VI: The Response Of Faith To Christ's Superiority, Hebrews 11:1-13:19
H. Living By Faith Applied, Hebrews 12:1-13:19
6. The Exhortation To Live By Faith Regarding Church Leaders
(Hebrews 13:7-8, 17)
  1. Introduction
    1. In the history of Christendom, Christians have tended toward two errant extremes regarding their Church leaders: either such men have been exalted as little gods, or they have been so afflicted by insubordinate parties in their congregations that it has been difficult for them to function effectively as leaders.
    2. Accordingly, believers need to live by faith in God regarding their Church leaders, a life of faith as explained comprehensively in Hebrews 13:7-8, 17 (as follows):
  2. The Exhortation To Live By Faith Regarding Church Leaders, Hebrews 13:7-8, 17.
    1. The author of Hebrews called his readers to remember their human Church leaders of the past, Hebrews 13:7a; Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 812. Such recollection also applies to current, upright leaders.
    2. So, the credible leaders they must remember and thus acknowledge are described in Hebrews 13:7b-8:
      1. Such leaders are those who have spoken the Word of God to the people, Hebrews 13:7b. The believer is to acknowledge the credibility of the spiritual oversight of the men God has evidently used to communicate His Word in ways that edify and teach them in their faith and walk with the Lord.
      2. The credible Church leaders to be acknowledged are also those men who have lived a life of faith over a long enough time period that their lives have produced long-term fruits of righteousness, Heb. 13:7c.
      3. This long-term test of good Church leaders reflects the unchanging nature of their Lord Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever, Hebrews 13:8. Godly Church leaders thus have a faithfulness in their lives that in a small way reflects the great faithfulness of their Overseer, the Lord Jesus Christ.
    3. After acknowledging upright Church leaders as such, Hebrews 13:17 directs the Church body on relating well to them in a life of faith before the Lord with the following directives:
      1. Believers under credible leaders in the Church are to obey such overseers, Hebrews 13:17a.
      2. This obedience is in conjunction to willing submission to their authority before God, Hebrews 13:17b.
      3. The author of Hebrews then explained the need for such a response to upright leaders, Heb. 13:17c,d,e:
        1. First, Church leaders must give an account to their Overseer, the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, regarding their oversight of the Church body, Hebrews 13:17c with 1 Peter 5:4. Such men are responsible before the Lord to (a) shepherd the flock, namely, to teach and apply Scripture to the lives of their hearers (1 Peter 5:2a with 2 Timothy 4:1-2); (b) these leaders are responsible to assume spiritual oversight willingly and not because they must, as God wills, 1 Peter 5:2b NIV; (c) they are responsible to be eager to minister without trying to enhance their income, 1 Peter 5:2c, and (d) they are responsible to avoid being dictators, but to lead those they realize belong to God and not to them, people God has entrusted to them, and that by the force of their example, 1 Peter 5:3 NIV. With such great responsibility, Church leaders need room to focus on their calling, and that requires that those under them respond supportively to their efforts to help their ministries.
        2. Second, Church leaders need to minister to a cooperative congregation for its own good: (1) leaders need to work in joy, not in grief (Hebrews 13:17d), for (2) grief in working with an insubordinate congregation only hampers the leader's productivity, and (3) that is only "unprofitable" (alusiteles, Arndt & Gingrich, A Grk.-Engl. Lex. of the N. T., 1967, p. 40-41) for the congregation, Hebrews 13:17e. (4) The Chief Shepherd, Christ, will also discipline such insubordination! (Num. 17:1-5)
Lesson: The church leaders the congregation must acknowledge are those who minister God's Word and have a long track record of godly lives. The congregation is responsible before God to obey and submit to them, for such men need a decent setting in which to function. Otherwise, if they suffer unjust grief from the congregation, their productivity diminishes to the harm of the whole Church.

Application: May we heed the admonition of relating properly to Church leaders as an act of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Chief Shepherd of the whole Church!