Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
In verse 7 we are again challenged to “remember” something. The Greek word translated as “remember” means “to be mindful of, to call to mind.” That is a standard definition of the English word as well.
In our context we are told to remember those who have the rule over us. It is important to remember that we are all like sheep. We are followers. God created man to be a follower of Him. Adam was created by God. He received his instructions for life from God. He was completely dependent upon God. The reality is that we are all dependent upon God even though most people reject that fact. Without God we would not breathe. Without God we could not live.
Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
A servant has a master. There is no individual on earth that is truly their own boss. It is amazing to see how many people will buck at God’s rule over them but they will submit to the rule of people like our PM or any of the government officials. They will submit to their little clique of people, which will always have someone who takes the lead, but they buck at submitting to God.
The Bible shows us the benefit of submitting to God’s rule. As we noted already, God created Adam. Adam was taught the importance of a patriarchal system. That system became fractured at the fall, but it is still in place. God’s design is still for a patriarchal system of rule. God also makes it abundantly clear that He needs to be in charge of the patriarch.
Noah was a man who found grace in God’s eyes. He led his family to follow him into the building of the Ark and also of entering the Ark at God’s command. In Genesis 10 and 11 we read of a man named Nimrod, who set himself up as a ruler of the people. He was an ungodly man who led the people to help him build a tower that was intended to reach heaven. Nimrod wanted to make a name for himself. Interestingly, he was able to convince the people to join him in his rebellion against God.
God intervened and confounded the language of the people so that they could no longer communicate with one another and the building of the tower ceased. God intended for man to spread across the world and fill the earth. They rebelled against Him and He forced them to scatter in small groups to fill the earth. God divided the people into nations, not races. Racism is an evolutionary term and thus not worthy of consideration for those who are saved. We need to learn to look at people as coming from a particular nation, not by the colour of their skin. We have been trained for too long to look at skin colour and then form opinions based on that.
Back to our text, those who rule over us is further defined in the text. It refers to those who have spoken the Word of God to us. Those who assume rulership without knowing the Lord lead their subjects into chaos. Those who submit to Godless rulers find themselves confused and very unstable. That is what we see in Canada and around the world today.
According to our text, the ruler would refer to apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. There were living apostles and prophets at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews. There are none living today. There are cults that still claim to have apostles and prophets, but we can know from God’s Word they are wrong. We have the Word of God which should still rule over us. We have living evangelists, pastors and teachers who are designed by God to rule over us.
To “rule over us” means “to lead, to go before, to have authority over.” The context of the verse we are looking at would be with regard to the Bible-believing local church. We have talked much about churches, but the key to any true church is that the pastor speaks the Word of God. That eliminates most churches right there. Most pastors are story tellers and leave the people with the opinions of their favourite author(s) or internet or TV personality. A true pastor is a student of God’s Word and like Paul, seeks to give those God sends his way the whole counsel of God.
The hearer cannot get that in one session. Paul spent three years in Ephesus. He had been faithful. He knew that when he left, the devil would continue to attack the church at Ephesus and he also knew, being directed by God, that from among the leaders of that church some would be deceivers and they would desire to scatter the sheep. We cannot conclude that if a pastor teaches a group of people for three years, they will be equipped to stand against deception. The teaching and preaching needs to go on for the life of the saved person.
God further tells us that we should follow the faith of those who speak the Word of God to us. Notice we are not told to blindly follow them. We are to follow their faith. A godly evangelist, pastor or teacher will demonstrate his faith. He will show you what he believes. He will show you the importance of believing in God. He will show you from God’s Word why he believes what he believes. A godly ruler subjects himself to the authority of God’s Word and does not use God’s Word as a tool to prove his false ideas. He humbly submits to God’s authority and changes his ideas in accordance with God’s Truth.
Thus we can see why we are told to examine our pastor and prove his words with his actions. The pastor’s behaviour needs to add up to his words. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for being hypocrites. He accused them of being whited sepulchres. They were rotten inside but tried to look good on the outside. He exposed them for who they truly were and they hated Him for it. They worked hard to find a way to get rid of Him. What they did was condemn themselves and seal their doom in the lake of fire. A few like Saul/Paul were saved. Once saved, Paul became hated for his rule over those he had influence over.
The local church leaders are not dictators. They must declare “thus saith the Lord”. They must uphold godly standards in the local church. They must use church discipline when needed. However, they cannot force anyone to follow them. A person is free to sin against God and leave the true local church if he or she does not like what they hear and see. They are free to be wrong and live under God’s condemnation. The pastor will not be without fault, but he will be a man who speaks the Word of God faithfully. He will be growing in the Lord and leading people to a walk of holiness in the true God. Those who attend have every right to examine what the man says and does in the light of God’s Word. God’s Word is the final and only Authority. Any man who sets himself in authority above God’s Word is a dangerous man.
God will address this further in verse 17 of our text.
God placed verse 8 right after verse 7. Jesus Christ is the Standard. He never changes. One thing we can see in New Evangelicalism is that it changes with the times. The music standards change, the dress standards change, the authority of God’s Word changes. In fact everything changes. Most churches try hard to be “relevant” with the generation that is dominant. They want the older people because they have the money needed to keep going. They want to cater to the younger people because they are the future of the church. What is missing is the Word of God.
We have already seen that there will be a falling away in the last times. Jesus had large followings. In John 6 Jesus taught very clearly and very carefully on the importance of true faith in Him. He explained that very well and His teaching was an offence to most of those who were following Him at that time. By the end of that chapter, we see that many of His disciples left Him and they walked no more with Him. They rejected what He taught. Jesus did not go running after them and ask them what they wanted to hear. He told them the truth and they chose to reject the truth and He turned to the 12 and asked them if they were going to leave as well.
The truth is the truth because God says so, not because people accept it. The godly pastor teaches the truth with longsuffering and doctrine. He takes heed to himself that he is well grounded in the truth and he seeks to help others to follow the truth. The results are in God’s hands, not the pastor’s hands.
I Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.