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Monday, December 27, 2010

Submission to Authority Part 5: Social Matters

Employers over Employees – Ephesians 6:5-8 / Colossians 3:22-25 / 1 Timothy 6:1-2 / Titus 2:9-10 / 1 Peter 2:18-20. If you’re going to be a Christian employee you must see yourself as working for Jesus Christ. The goal is to please God with what you do. In most cases these are voluntary associations, and we don’t have to stay in them. They are not like slavery but the principle of submission applies. What if you’re the boss? Ephesians 6:9: God says we are in this together. Don’t go around threatening people. Everywhere there is a command to submit there is a command to be righteous in our dealings (Colossians 4:1).

1 Corinthians 7:21-24 – Paul is not advocating slavery; he is saying that slavery is no barrier to being a Christian. Paul would like slaves to be free, but if they aren’t they can still serve God well. Physical freedom is an implication of the gospel. When Christianity is planted into the hearts of people, emancipation will eventually happen. Titus 2:9-11 – even slaves can wear the garments of grace, and be adorned by the beauty of the gospel. 1 Timothy 1:10 – this includes the kidnappers of free men, the stealers of the slaves of other men, and slave traders. The New Testament doesn’t seem to directly rail against the institution of slavery. It does speak against it, but it does not condone a societal revolution that would have turned to violence in the midst of the original spread of the gospel. Christianity does clearly teach principles that undermine it, and did end it, as is the case wherever Christianity is developed (cf. Matthew 7:12 / Philemon).

Philippians 2:5-13 – Think about Jesus and His relationship with the Father, and you will realize that the essence of spirituality is submission. Man’s nature is not submission but rebellion. Even in the Garden of Eden there really was only one thing to submit to and they wouldn’t do it. We have to learn to be submissive. Let us learn from Christ. Jesus was totally submitted to the Father (Luke 22:42 / John 5:19). His destiny included investment by submission; so does ours.

Jesus submitted (vs.5) – Matthew 23:12 / James 4:10.

• To God as a son (vs.6) – Jesus 1st act of redemption was submission; without it there is no salvation. The Gospel started by the submission of Christ, it comes to us when we submit to God. John 5:17-19, 14:10 – He was still God but He did the Father’s will. In the wilderness temptation (Matthew 4 / Luke 4), Satan presented “alternatives”, but Jesus stayed in submission.
• To men as a servant (vs.7) – He had to be born as a baby, cleaned and fed, with all the mundane aspects of being human. He grew in stature, but still had to endure the waiting period before His ministry. Hebrews 5:8 / Matthew 20:25-28 – He was a servant leader.
• To death as a sacrifice (vs.8) – Matthew 10:28, 26:39 / Hebrews 2:10-15. He would be resurrected (Acts 2:23-33) but He submitted to the wrath of God (Isaiah 53:6-12).

Therefore…

• The Father has exalted Him (vs.9) – He was already the creator and sustainer (John 1:3 / Colossians 1:15-18 / Hebrews 1:2-3), yet now His name is magnified.
• Everyone will submit to Him (vs.10) – Matthew 28:18 / Ephesians 1:21-23 / 1 Peter 3:22.
• The Father is glorified in Him (vs.11) – 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. Jesus sought God the Father’s glory just as the Holy Spirit seeks to glorify Christ (John 16:13-16).

Most people don’t want to do something “beneath their dignity”, but to submit to Deity is true dignity no matter what the world says. How miserable would Jesus have been if He had argued with the Father all the time instead of submitting to His will? The submission of Jesus wasn’t just talk; His submission took action. Therefore, because of Christ, as we learn submission we experience His power (vs.12-13).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Submission to Authority Part 4: Church Matters

1 Corinthians 11:3-12 – God has established principles of authority, order, and accountability. In the relationship between the Father and the Son; Christ is not inferior, it is a functional subordination (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:27-28). In no case is inferiority implied with any of the examples of submission mentioned in Scripture. The head covering is a cultural matter, but the principle of submission is universal. How does this apply to us today, since in our culture head coverings are not indicators that women are submitting to male headship? Women can demonstrate submission by their attitudes, by taking on their husband’s name, by wearing a wedding ring, and by dressing in ways that are feminine and not masculine (does not mean no pants, men wore “dresses” in Deuteronomy 22:5 times).

What about 1 Corinthians 14:34-35? Clearly, from all Paul says, there are times and places in which a woman may speak and others in which she may not. 1 Timothy 2:12 makes it clear what the key is. A woman is not permitted a pastoral or governmental position over men in a New Testament church. There is no question but that a woman may be every bit as spiritual and spiritually gifted as any man. That is not the point. A submitted woman will find many opportunities to exercise her gifts (Titus 2:4 / 2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15).

In vs.11-12, Paul says that women and men are to maintain their gender roles in interdependent ways. Although the woman was made on behalf of the man, apart from women there will be no more men. Paul is reminding everyone that their gender roles are God given. Men should hold their authority under God, and women are to submit to men under God. No one is to regard themselves as autonomous. Women may pray and prophesy in the church setting, and they do not have to physically cover their heads. They must be in subjection to the authority of their husbands, and cannot assume a teaching or governing role over men in the church.

Church Leaders over Church Members – Hebrews 13:17 / 1 Corinthians 16:15-16 / 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 / 1 Peter 5:5. How much authority does the pastor have over you? The practical answer is however much you grant him. God only holds the pastor responsible for warning, rebuking, teaching, sounding a clear message, and doing the things that he can do. He doesn’t hold him responsible for making you do what you have to do.

When submission to one authority conflicts with submission to another, we are obliged to submit to the highest authority. The Bible teaches that Christians should relinquish our relationships if it becomes necessary to do so in order to put God first (Luke 14:20, 24). Looking for instances where you don’t have to be submissive might mean you are looking for a way out of being submitted (Example: Child being told she can’t ride her bike to the playground, so she walks instead). In such a case, lots of rules must be set down to cover every conceivable situation. However, if we are submissive, you only need a few guiding principles. True submission is undermined by stereotypical submission, defined by very precise rules and practices rather than a matter of the heart.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8 – if two Christian parties can’t agree between themselves, instead of going to the secular court system, they ought to submit to the church and its due process, and then be willing to abide by their decision. Certainly there are times we have to appeal to or appear in court, to answer a charge or to testify in a criminal matter, or when we need legal clarification of different kinds of agreements. Those possibilities having been stated, the gospel truth is that submitting to God means that we also have to submit to one another.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Submission to Authority Part 3: Family Matters

Parents over Children – Proverbs 6:20-21, 15:5 / Ephesians 6:1-3 / Colossians 3:20. You may be in your 20’s now, but you should still honor and be interested in your parent’s opinions. They know who you are and what you need and what you’re about. Did you inherit infallible wisdom along with your emancipation? Parents have a responsibility as well – Ephesians 6:4 / Colossians 3:21. Some parents abuse their authority while other parents abdicate their authority: but that doesn’t mean that that no parent should have authority over their children.

Husbands over Wives – Ephesians 5:22-24 / Colossians 3:18 / 1 Peter 3:1-6. Husbands have a responsibility as well – Ephesians 5:25 / Colossians 3:19 / 1 Peter 3:7. Christ showed us submission and love perfectly, and it is the pattern for marriage. We submit ourselves to God and to one another by submitting to our God given roles. For the woman the question isn’t, “Is he worthy?” the question is “Are you willing?” For the man the question isn’t “Is she submitted?” but “Am I serving?” The man must serve his wife even when she isn’t submitted, and the wife must submit to the man even when he isn’t serving. The opposite of this is when both man and woman are both just looking to say no to each other. She is looking for excuses not to submit, and he is looking to avoid giving himself completely to her service. They don’t respect each other, they don’t respect their God given roles, and they don’t actually respect God’s Word. That isn’t a marriage where Christ is the center and you are a couple at war with the devil; that is a miserable existence where Christ is only a figurehead and you at war with each other.

The family unit has roles that were designed by God. If we don’t submit to God’s design, we don’t submit to God, and the devil will not be resisted (James 4:7). It’s not about ability it’s about authority. That authority is established upon the priority of God in our lives. It isn’t about talent it’s about team. It isn’t about intelligence it’s about order. If everyone is out of order, all your energy goes to getting everyone in line first, and the leader cannot even see if the decisions are right, he is just trying to get things in order first. Conversely, when everyone is in line and things go wrong, then he can see what needs to be changed. Submission is not about inferiority, or about women keeping their mouth shut. It is about glorifying God. When a wife doesn’t submit to her husband she is failing as a disciple of Jesus Christ, not just as a wife. Submission is about honoring Christ, not a husband’s talent, intellect, or decision-making skills.

Women are required to submit to their husbands entirely. That doesn’t mean the man is to rule as a tyrant, or that she has no say. No, the man and the woman should be consulting one another on most everything, but in case of a tie, the man bears the responsibility and accountability for the final decision. This frees the woman; it doesn’t constrain her like a shackle.

The Christian wife may believe that submitting to her husband means she must never speak in a way that seeks to correct him if he is wrong. This is not true. The biblical commands related to discipline in the church apply as much to marriage partners as to anyone else. If all of us are to submit to one another, we must somehow carry out the discipline commands in a way that does not violate the principle of submission. Submission and rebuke are not incompatible. The wife is not to submit to any other man in the same way as she does to her husband.

A woman is not required to submit if her husband asks her to sin. Now this is not simply your definition of it, but a clear biblical case. If it violates the woman’s conscience she should speak up while still submitting. Of course a woman is not required to submit to one who is insane, or when they are being violently abusive, or when they are drunk or drugged up (not just because they got drunk one time, but when they are drunk and would be making an irrational decision, like, “give me the keys”). A woman is not to submit to an adulterous relationship.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Submission to Authority Part 2: State over Citizens

Romans 13:1-7 / Titus 3:1 / 1 Peter 2:13-17

This is a command that applies to all. God ordained the role of governments, families, and authority structures to provide order to society. All human authority is derived from God’s authority. We question that when we think of the Hitler’s, Stalin’s, and other evil dictators of world history, but we see examples of God showing that He is sovereign over all leaders, kings and tyrants: Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, etc. (Proverbs 21:1). Pilate is a case in point (John 19:9-11 / Acts 4:27-28).

Jesus and His disciples paid their taxes to a pagan Roman government (Matthew 22:17-22), and to a corrupt Jewish religious body. Although our Lord questioned the validity of a particular tax (Matthew 17:24-27), He taught His followers to pay the tax anyway (Romans 13:7).

Romans 13:3-4 – legitimate function of civil authority – reward good / punish evil. When a government becomes so corrupt that it fails to perform its legitimate functions, then people must try to institute a new government peaceably and the church must speak against political corruption, public sin, and tyranny.

Acts 4:18-20, 5:17-29 – When any human authority commands what God forbids or forbids what God commands, Christians must resist at that point, yet still be subject to the punishment – Christians first, citizens second, our primary obedience is to God. One can still be in submission to one’s authority without always blindly obeying every command. In other words, one can submissively disobey. Daniel and his friends demonstrate submissive disobedience for us (Daniel 3:8-25). They would not submit to idolatry, but would submit for the penalty of disobeying the king. Daniel submitted to the authorities over him in Babylon, while at the same time he maintained his submission to God (Daniel 4:1-23).

What if the authority endorses what God condemns? They don’t make me do it, but they promote or allow what is morally evil, for example abortion. Christians can get involved with crisis pregnancy centers, write letters, and petition for change. What about when a government doesn’t enforce laws already on the books that provide protection and justice to others? Clearly, there are times when an authority must be challenged to cease from its ungodly ways. There comes a point where the evil is too great and we must do more, when passive acceptance of an evil perpetrated on another becomes a sin. This doesn’t mean bombing abortion clinics or murdering abortion doctors, but it does mean we should jaywalk and strike an attacker who is trying to mug an old lady. We might need to speed to get a person who was shot to the hospital.

When a ruler of a people is engaged in and promoting wickedness, in some cases we should be praying imprecations. In the Bible an imprecatory prayer is the prayer of a righteous man petitioning God to carry out justice by bringing punishment or destruction upon evildoers, and to let God’s righteousness prevail in a situation (Psalm 10:15, 28:4, 58:6, 69:22-28, 109, 137:9, 139:19-21, etc.). The imprecatory Psalms are not personal vendettas; they were longings for God to vindicate His cause upon the earth, and to judge sin.

When David or any other biblical character prays an imprecation, the matter is left entirely with God. David might have had Saul in mind, yet he refused to take personal revenge, even when he had the opportunity. David may have prayed fiercely, but his actions were gracious and kind. Moses, the “meekest man on earth” (Numbers 12:3) prayed imprecations (Numbers 10:35). The prophet Jeremiah used imprecations (Jeremiah 11:18-23, 18:19-23). There are numerous imprecations in the New Testament also, such as that of the martyrs (Revelation 6:9-10).

If someone who has authority seems to be against us or actually is our enemy, the New Testament teaches that we are to pray for them (Matthew 5:44 / 1 Timothy 2:1-2), do good things to them (Luke 6:27 / Romans 12:20), and forgive them (Mark 11:25 – recall session 5, Luke 23:34, Acts 7:60). In light of this, we can understand that imprecatory prayers are a truth that must be held in tension, and not just for us to filter our anger through, etc. However, this is part of scripture, it is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and there is still a place for imprecation in Christianity, especially upon governments gone bad, totalitarian regimes, human rights violators, etc.. Someone who has learned the power of submission in their lives will be better able to discern what to do in these situations.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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