"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
Lesson Number 25
THE GRAND SUMMATION
By Given O. Blakely
Those Over Us in the Lord
"Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Verses 7-8). Here is a word concerning spiritual leaders. This text has been used to justify political-type authority in the body of Christ. Such an application, however, is a flagrant abuse of this text. There is no provision in the Kingdom of God for lording it over the people of God. Jesus has spoken plainly on this subject. "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt 20:25-28, NASB). Forever purge from your mind the notion that the church has earthly "bosses." It does not. There are those with "rule," but it is not after the carnal order.
Our text says to "REMEMBER those who rule over you." This is an act of recollection. Think upon them. Ponder them. Recall them. The exhortation assumes a spiritual maturity in "those who rule over you" that is stimulating and brings profit when remembered. This word (Mnhmoneu,ete, mnay-mon-yoo'-et-ee) is used throughout Scripture. It always denotes pondering, thinking upon the implications, and dwelling upon a thought. The idea of frequency and regularity is in the word; i.e., keep in mind, speak of, and make mention of. "Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand" (Matt 16:9). " . . . do ye not remember?" (Mark 8:18). "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32). "Remember the word that I said unto you" (John 15:20). "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles . . . " (Eph 2:11). "Remember my bonds" (Col 4:18). "For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail" (1 Thess 2:9). "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" (2 Thess 2:5). The use of this word postulates profitable results. It is as though the Spirit said, "You will find profit for your souls in recalling those who have the rule over you."
He further identifies who these rulers are. They are not duly elected officials, but those "who have spoken the word of God to you." These were primarily departed leaders, who had gone on to their reward, although the reference is not limited to them. Here the MEANS through which the rule is accomplished is identified. Their power was in their ministry, not their office!--"who have spoken the word of God to you." The remembered ones did not rule by personal authority over the individuals, but by the Word of God. The ability of these rulers to bring the Word of God to bear upon the conscience of men is what made them "rulers." They were spiritual leaders who walked close enough to God, and were exposed to God's Word to such a degree, they had "the mind of Christ" on the matters of which they spoke. In the Kingdom of God, no person is a ruler in any sense who is not so characterized. It is not possible to rule or lead the people of God in a state of aloofness from the Living God. This is in sharp conflict with the government of most churches with which I am familiar.
The word "ruler," as has been pointed out, does not refer to an authoritarian in the earthly sense of the word. The term, taken from hgoumenwn (hayg-eh'-om-ev-on) means leader. It is used to describe the "chief speaker" in Acts 14:12. "And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker." The "ruler" is the one who "leads out," entering into the New Covenant as a spiritual pioneer. He leads the people where they have not gone before, showing, through the Word of God, spiritual territory that can be occupied by the grace of God. This is not a person who decides what people can do, but who shows people the path that has been sanctified for them. A person incapable of doing this is not a ruler in the house of God, regardless of the authority supposedly delegated to him. The New Covenant does not provide for formal leaders lacking acquaintance with God and His Word. The structure of the body of Christ does not allow for people living at a distance from God to exercise any form of authority or leadership over the people of God. The "rulers" of reference are members of the body "among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). They "shepherd" by speaking the Word of God.%%detect_both%%
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).