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by Dr. Richard Ing
author of Spiritual Warfare
February 3, 2003

Obey Your Masters With Fear and Trembling

     I was teaching on the Book of Ephesians last Sunday and came across Ephesians 6:5:

     Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing will of Christ from the heart. With good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

     I thought, "If servants are to obey their human masters "with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ," how then are we to obey our church leaders?" 
I just want to preach the true gospel of the kingdom of God. If you think that the above passage is out of place, that's how far the church has fallen.

The Hearts Of the Fathers And The Children

     While reading the above, Malachi 4:5, 6 came to mind. That passage says, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." What does it mean - "And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers"? At first glance, we might conclude that God is talking about families. Families have become dysfunctional and are falling apart.

Children Rule Over Their Fathers

     Children are rebellious, disrespectful and disobedient towards their fathers and fathers have become indifferent to their children and in some cases, are serving and obeying their own children. Isaiah 3:4, 5 says this about the end times, "And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour; the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable." The prophet speaks further in verse 12, "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." It would seem that the last sentence is connected to the other two statements. Children are oppressors and women rule because the leaders cause the people to err and destroy the true way.

Kingdom Principles

In Ephesians 5:22-31, Paul speaks of the submission and obedience of the wife towards her husband. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." Many a woman has objected to this passage in chagrin and pastors have tried to water it down to please the women. Submission and obedience are kingdom principles.

     In Ephesians 5:25, Paul then declares to husbands, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." This too is a kingdom principle. Husbands are to love their wives to the extent that they are willing to die for them. This too has brought much consternation.

Paul then makes this interesting revelation: "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:32. What Paul said about the relationship between husbands and wives is the identical relationship between the Lord in heaven and the Church on earth. When churches line up with God's plan, they will be in proper order. When families line up with God's plan for the church, families will come back into proper order. It is one and the same. A sign of a dysfunctional church is dysfunctional families and vice versa. Families are dysfunctional and the children have become disobedient and rebellious towards their fathers because their fathers have become disobedient and rebellious towards the church.

Elijah Comes To Restore

     Elijah comes to restore the church and families. Matthew 17:11. When proper order is restored, the hearts of the fathers or leaders of the church will once again turn to the "children" or sheep with love; and the hearts of the sheep will turn back to the fathers of the church with proper submission and obedience. When the saints have greater respect for the fathers of the church and obey in fear and trembling, the hearts of the church fathers will turn to the children. When the church is restored to proper kingdom order, the families will automatically return to proper kingdom order and fathers and children will be in proper relationship one with the other. The Father in heaven will once again turn towards His children with grace and mercy and the children will turn their hearts back to the Father.

     Today, pastors grovel in the dirt to please their members. Almost every pastor knows how rebellious the people are and how disobedient. They perform only if they are happy and entertained. If they like the pastor, they come to church and support the pastor. but they have no intention to obey and support with all their heart. They submit to the pastor if they agree or like the pastor. Otherwise, they will either leave or be uncommitted. "Successful" churches know how to please the members. It becomes a vicious cycle.

     Disobedient and non-submissive church members have disobedient and non-submissive children towards fathers. Children learn from their parents.

     An Upside Down Church

     In some denominations, the power is in the members. They can fire a pastor or have him transferred. Many pastors are so concerned over their popularity and too scared to say anything that may upset the members. They give milk sermons that all can listen to and not be insulted or hurt in any way. They try hard to be charming - one of the boys, knowing that if they are considered a "good guy," their job might be more secure. They smile all the time, try to be light and friendly and never give hard sermons. "Preach hard" has been changed to "take it easy" and joke or laugh a lot. Entertaining the troops and not pushing them too hard is the way to have a big church. Give them what they want; they will love it! Fun! Fun! Fun! Want to find a wife or husband? Go to church!

     Some live in constant fear of being ousted by the members. It is a church turned inside out and upside down. There is no fear and trembling. The members remain babies and the women rule over them.

Service Not Unto the Lord

     In the end, the pastors render service not unto the Lord, but unto the members, as men-pleasers. While it is the duty of the shepherds to comfort, succor and help the sheep, it is also their duty to guide the sheep into God's truth and ways. Very often, the true gospel of the kingdom is compromised in order to please the sheep. Instead of being a "servant of Christ, doing the will of Christ from the heart," they are servants of the sheep, doing the will of the sheep from the heart - men-pleasers.

     In 1 Samauel 16:4, we find that Samuel was told by God to go see Jesse in Bethlehem. "And Samuel did what which the Lord spake, and came to Bethehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?" When was the last time you saw someone tremble in fear before his pastor or any church leader?

     Elijah comes to restore proper order in the church. It may not happen wholesale, but he comes for that purpose. Some will respond, many will not. Regardless, Elijah must come to restore before Jesus returns the second time. Elijah was a man who feared no one but God. He confronted King Ahab and had no thought for his life and popularity. He was probably the most hated man in the kingdom as he was blamed for three years of drought in Israel. He came to restore proper order in the kingdom of Israel - a stubborn, rebellious and disobedient people led by a stubborn, rebellious and disobedient king. Elijah challenged the establishment and King Ahab was judged by God and died in battle. His wife, Jezebel, was also destroyed. Proper order was restored. Even as rebellion and disobedience flowed from the king of Israel to the people, humility, submission and obedience flowed from Elijah to the people of Israel when proper order was restored.

     God is going to judge both the fathers of His church and the fathers of families.

Restoring Proper Order

     The fathers are responsible for setting the church and the families in proper order before God through proper submission and obedience to church leaders. The Fathers of the church are responsible for setting the church in proper order by submitting to and obeying God and not men. Fathers are to love their wives and the members of their family as Christ loved the church and died for it. Church leaders are to love the members of the church in the same manner. Elijah will come to restore.

     When I was in Fiji a few years back, I interviewed four young ladies (14 to 19 years of age). When we completed our interview, I asked one young lady, "If you had one last word to tell the pastors in America, what would you tell them?" She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said slowly, "Tell them to preach the true Gospel."

     Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!


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