Big Apple Chapel is a New Testament based church in New York City, modeled after the pattern of the early church, with a strong emphasis on following Christ as a community of His disciples.

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BAC Sermons

The S-Word: Submission

2010-09-12 1 Peter 5:5



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Ephesians 5:21 The S-Word: Submission BC 6/95 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God

I. Submission is willingly yielding your rights and preferences for the goal of God-glorifying unity (embracing another's agenda)


II. Lack of Submission opens us up to Demonic Attack (Independence is the essence of sin)

Jas 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.


III. We Submit to: 1) God, 2) Government, 3) Parents, 4) Spiritual Leaders, 5) Employers, 6) One Another, 7) Husbands

1) Lk 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it to me according to your word.  Cx Rm 10:13 below VI. 2.

2) Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject to higher powers, there's no power but from God: the powers that are, are ordained by God

Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

1Pt 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme; 14 Or to governors, as to them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

3) Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother... Cf. Lk 2:51  below IV.


4) Heb 13:7 Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their manner of life. 17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that's unprofitable for you

1Cor 16:15 the house of Stephanas...devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) 16 That ye submit yourselves to such, and to every one that helps with us, and labors. 1Th 5:12 beseech you, brethren, to know them who labor among you, and are over you

Pr 5:11 And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, 12 And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; 13 And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to them that instructed me!


5) Titus 2:9 Exhort servants to be obedient/submissive to their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10 Not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

1Pt 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the perverse pointy haired boss. 19 For this is praiseworthy/meritorious, if a man for conscience toward God endures grief, suffering wrongfully.


6) 1Pt 5:5 Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elders. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:


7) Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 24 Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Col 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Tit 2:5 discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.


IV. Submission is: 1) Christlike, 2) designed by God for our benefit, 3) in the grey areas

Lu 2:51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them...1Co 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued to him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.


V. Submission requires trust that God is: Good, Sovereign, Almighty, Wise, Just Judge, and a Rewarder (fear)

Eph 1:22 And put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

1Pe 3:1 Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the behavior of the wives; 5 For after this manner in former times the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands:


VI. Submission requires: 1) yieldedness to God and embracing of His will, 2) intelligence 3) humility:

a) transparency=willingness to be seen as I am with nothing to hide; b) good self-image=lack of the need to validate or prove my worth via the temporal; c) flexibility=writing our own agenda in pencil; d) preferring and honoring others=having affirmation from God so I can pass some along to others (especially in service).

1) Rm 8:7 the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be (while set on flesh/temporal)

Heb 12:9 fathers...flesh corrected us, and we gave them reverence...much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?

2) Rom 10:3 ignorant of God's righteousness, seeking to establish their own, not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God

3) Php 2:3 do nothing through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better/important than themselves.


Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:

1. What does one do if there is a disparity in the orders given by the chain of command? When does submission cease?

2. Is submission something to be dreaded or embraced? Why? When is it easiest to submit?  What about gray areas and preferences?

3. If one obeys only direct commands, is one submitting? How does one embrace another's objective?

4. What's the consequence of failing to trust God as having each of the attributes in #V? What does fear of God have to do with submission?

5. Which of the elements in #VI is most frequently lacking in our culture? Our lives? Our church?

6. T or F: My future well-being is dependent upon not being independent of others? Explain Heb 13:17 (Note Acts 20:28; 1Pt 5:1-8)

7. How have you sought to limit yourself for the benefit of the Body? How are you submitted to others?


Heb 10:24-25 Study Guide Church Part 5: Structure (c) 1/01 WF Cobb Truthbase.net


III. Is there a Biblical structure that the NT-based church should have?  Is structure Biblical?

The Fact of Biblical Structure/Leadership: fact of life in OT and NT

The Function of Biblical Structure/Leadership: weed, feed, lead  (enfold, equip, eject)

The Fruit of Biblical Structure/Leadership: God-glorifying, Christ-like reproductive disciples impacting their world, reaping reward


A. What types of structure or format contribute to a church fulfilling its purpose/mission?

1. What types of structures or environments would hinder a church from its mission? How? What? the corrective to bad structure?

Too rigid a structure inhibits growth; an unpruned, overly loose structure encourages disease and does not promote growth.

2. What are the benefits/liabilities of the structures/formats you see reflected in the NT, church history, and in the present day?

As a congregation matures, and elders develop, structure moves from being hierarchical, to oligarchical (shared leadership by elders).

3. What place do evaluation and planning have in the Christian life? Church life? What standards or criteria should be used, if any?

Holiness (as God is Holy) and faithful loyalty (to Christ personally and His mission) are the basis of our future judgment. (Present?)


B. Who is the Head of the Church? How is a church to be led? How do elders differ from Apostles? Bishops? Pastors? Popes?

Jesus brought the Father glory by obeying Him; we individually bring the Father glory by obeying Him. We corporately bring the Father glory by obeying His instructions for the Church. Jesus is the Head of the church, the Chief Shepherd. He communicates His will for the church through His Holy Spirit. The Spirit communicates His will through the Word of God objectively (in direct commands as well as principles), and subjectively (debatably), when the occasion warrants.  Even the Apostle Paul was submitted to the structure of the Church, first at Antioch and then at Jerusalem for both his ministry and doctrine.


1.  What functions do elder(s), pastor/shepherd, and bishop/overseer have (see Survey of Tasks entrusted to Elders by NT outline)?

The tasks of pastoring/shepherding, and overseeing/ruling (episkopos) are entrusted to elders (presbuteros). 

2. Compare/contrast the common forms of church government:

Congregational (democracy/anarchy) {assumes all are equally mature and know God's will for themselves as well as the church}

Baptistic (shepherd/pastor lead) {one person rule [based on one verse] perpetuates sin and weakness, but is  necessary until men mature}

Hierarchical (bishop/overseer rule- Methodist/Episcopalian/Catholic) {no check on power, centralized power usually corrupts}

Presbyterian (multiple elder rule w/in a local church {rather than in a region})


3. Who were the itinerant preachers of the NT and how did they serve the church? What role do they have today?


4. What is shepherding/pastoring?

Protecting from deception and destruction (within and without-personally and corporately) and guiding believers to spiritually reproductive maturity.


C. What are elders? What do they do? What's their Biblical basis? Acts 20; 1 Peter 5; Titus 1; 1 Timothy 3; Hebrews 13

1. How does one become an elder? To whom are elders submitted? What is the difference between accountability and submission?

Accountability is asking someone to call you to give an account of your goals, actions, and responsibilities. It more about you.

Submission is accommodating your goals/ambitions (in mutual submission) or  lining yourself up under the authority or goals of another.

(see outline on Marks of Godliness and BAC by-laws: elders are committed to be submitted to each other by seeking & acting in unity)

2. What is the basis for ordination and a professional clergy Is there a Biblical distinction between clergy and laity?

3.  How does the NT indicate believers should respond to elders? How should someone respond to imperfect or corrupt church leadership?

4. How does submission relate to church? Should believers be submitted to one another? Leadership? How? When does submission end?

5. How is submission on the job, or in a marriage, or in a family different from that in a church?


See: http://cvbc.net/leadership/bib_eld.summary.html OR http://www.peacemakers.net/resources/strauch/biblicaleldership.htm


When Is It OK to Leave a Church?  

www. patriarch.com/church4.html  (see endnote below)


As we examine the subject of church renewal in these pages the question will inevitably arise: When is it right to leave a local church? What are the legitimate reasons to separate myself from a local expression of the body of Christ? How can I avoid a schismatic spirit that disdains the unity of Christ's church?

Before answering these questions it is important that we acknowledge the unique temptations that we face in our day. Ours is a time when Christians have a lesser sense of commitment and loyalty to the local church than perhaps at any time in history; and this is a serious problem.

It is a problem because the church is precious to our Lord and it ought to be precious to the Lord's people. He died to create the church. He rules from heaven on behalf of his church. He prayed for the unity of his church.


Church Shopping

Yet Christians flit about from church to church as if they were trying on shoes. We have developed a consumer mentality when it comes to participation in a local fellowship, visiting one and then another, looking for the perfect fit. In the process we avoid any sense of commitment to a body of believers and deny the very principle of unity which is fundamental to the very nature of Christ's body.

It is part of a neurosis that afflicts most of our society today. Everyone is looking for perfection and in the process discarding whatever falls short of that standard. Men seek the perfect mate and so enter into what amounts to serial marriage through divorce. They seek the perfect job and so transfer from one company to another. They seek the perfect home and community and so move on average every three to five years. They seek the perfect church and so hop from Bible Fellowship this to Christian Center that.

But, of course, the search is a vain one. We will never find perfection in our spouse, our job, our community, or our church. The result is that we simply end up disconnected and frustrated.

The affliction of denominationalism is a large part of the problem as there is such a variety of churches from which to choose. And the fervor of the anti-denominationalists only adds to the confusion as the options are multiplied by an infinite variety of independent churches, each likewise trumpeting their uniqueness.

Whatever the causes, however, we must acknowledge the tragedy of the low level of commitment of most believers to a local assembly. For this reason it is especially important that we deal carefully with the question of leaving a church.


Bad Reasons for Leaving a Church

In answer to our question let us first set aside some reasons which are not a legitimate basis for leaving a fellowship of believers. First, based on what has already been written we conclude that a lack of perfection is not a reason to leave a church. Any church will have problems and no one is going to have his needs totally met in any fellowship. Let us not be surprised that things are not as we would like them to be. That is the nature of life in this sinful world, and we are part of the problem. Our presence in the church may be part of what keeps it from being a perfect place from someone else's point of view! Leaving because things are not perfect simply reveals our low level of faithfulness.

Second, it is not right to leave a church simply to run away from problems. If we are having trouble in our relationships with certain people, for example, then we need to draw on the grace of God to overcome those difficulties. We may need to grow in the fruit of the Spirit, gaining more patience, kindness and love. Running away short-circuits the very process God may want to use to conform us more nearly to the image of Christ.

Third, we should never leave a church because we are being challenged about our doctrine or pattern of life and find it uncomfortable. We ought always to be ready to examine what we believe and what we do by the standard of the Word of God, and we should not feel threatened by someone challenging our cherished notions. How else can we grow? It is sad how immature so many Christians are, how unable to enter into discussion about important questions of life and doctrine. It is precisely because there is one Truth which is revealed in Scripture that believers need to be able to deliberate and learn from one another so that they can be faithful to Christ and his Word alone.

Christians need to be committed to the church! Lack of commitment to other Christians can never be the reason for departing. Actually, the only reason for leaving a church should be, in reality, a desire for more commitment to the body of Christ. What, then, are the legitimate reasons to make one's departure?


Bible Doctrine

The first reason one may choose to leave a church is that it's leaders do not teach the Bible's doctrines faithfully. Paul could say after his three-year ministry in Ephesus, "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God" (Acts 20:27). Church leaders must not hesitate to teach whatever the Bible teaches, whether people like to hear it or not. Nor should they add anything to the Bible's message by way of new revelation or faddish interpretation.

A father must decide if a church's teaching is faithful to the Scriptures. If he believes it deviates at some point, he then has to decide if it is a matter of sufficient weight to justify breaking fellowship. The doctrine of the deity of Christ is fundamental. So is the doctrine of Bible inspiration. Failure in regard to these issues would present clear reasons for separation. However, doctrines related to tithing or the nature of the millennium probably do not constitute a basis for departure.


A Biblical Pattern of Life

A second reason for leaving a church is that its leaders do not teach, model and promote a biblical pattern of life. The Bible not only teaches a set of ideas we are to believe; it also teaches a pattern of life we are to follow. Paul wrote, "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you" (Philippians 3:17). Church leaders are supposed to be "examples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:3), demonstrating what a godly lifestyle looks like.

Liberals in the apostate mainline denominations are likely to fail the doctrinal test. They will tend to hold views which are contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture, like a denial of the physical resurrection of Jesus or the assertion that women can be elders in the church. Evangelicals, on the other hand, those of us who take the Bible very seriously when it comes to fundamental doctrines, are apt to fail the lifestyle test. We often do not take the Bible seriously as a guide for our pattern of life.

Evangelicals will affirm the bodily resurrection but deny in practice that gossip is an abomination to God and destructive of the peace of the church. They will affirm the virgin birth but deny in practice that God requires them to protect their children from evil influences that militate against the faith. They will affirm the substitutionary atonement but deny in practice that debt is slavery and to be avoided at all costs. They will affirm the verbal inspiration of Scripture but deny in practice that God hates divorce and that it is tantamount to adultery. They will affirm justification by grace through faith but deny in practice that men are to lead and women to submit in the home and church. In short, they tend to affirm Bible doctrines while disobeying the Bible's pattern for life.

Neither the liberal nor the evangelical way of denying the authority of Scripture is acceptable. God means for his Word to be believed (doctrine) and he means for his Word to be obeyed (life).

So church leaders must not only teach Bible doctrine; they must also model biblical ways of living. Imagine a leader who is obese because of gluttony and lack of self-control; he sends his children to the anti-Christian government schools; he teaches the importance of limiting family size; his wife works for another man; his children are not under control; he lives beyond his means on credit; and he has been divorced*but his doctrine is impeccable. Can I remain under the authority of someone who so denies the Bible by his life? Can my family continue to maintain fellowship in a church whose leaders so disregard the clear teachings of God's Word?

A specific area in which many homeschooling families find themselves at odds with their church is the matter of how they are trying to train their children within the context of the church structure. The parents may want their children with them in worship and they do not want them in age-segregated, peer-oriented groupings like Sunday School and youth groups. They have rightly concluded that the course they have chosen is more in keeping with biblical precepts and examples and that the church is simply borrowing failed methods from the world. But the pressure on them to conform to the accepted arrangements is intense; they may be made to feel as if they are being poor parents and uncooperative church members. This failure of the church to teach the principle of parental responsibility for child training and to reinforce it in the church's programs may well be a reason to leave. The church should be promoting biblical patterns of living, not hindering those who are trying to follow these patterns themselves.


Discipleship and Discipline

A third reason for leaving a church is its failure to practice discipleship and discipline. These words are closely related in form and meaning. Discipleship is the process of training someone to live the Christian life. Discipline refers to the correction and sanctions that are imposed on one who professes faith in Christ but who fails to live the Christian life.

Jesus' last instruction to His followers was to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). This was to be accomplished by "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (v. 20). A church is failing in its fundamental task if it is not making disciples, if it is not teaching its members how to live a life of obedience, if it is not equipping people to live according the pattern of life set forth in Scripture.

A man should expect his church to provide training in both Bible doctrine and biblical patterns of life. He should be instructed in the fundamentals of the faith so that he can become a good workman (2 Timothy 2:15) and can teach his own family the truths of Scripture. He should also be trained in biblical lifestyle: how to handle finances in a godly way, how to teach his own children, how to be the spiritual leader of his family, how to deal with temptation, how to meditate on Scripture.

Jesus also instructed his disciples how to deal with professing believers who refuse to repent when confronted with sin in their lives (Matthew 18:15-17; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Such persons are to be rebuked and eventually excommunicated, cut off from the fellowship of the body. If a man teaches false doctrine or practices a sinful lifestyle, he is to be confronted and called to repentance. Lacking repentance, he is to be removed from the body of Christ.

Too few churches provide training for the Christian life. Fewer still practice church discipline. Yet both of these are essential to a healthy church. A lack of them is reason to seek another place of fellowship.

We could summarize our three points this way: It is legitimate to leave a church when its leaders dishonor Christ by a failure to apply his Word to themselves and the congregation in matters of doctrine and life. Although separation should always be accomplished with some measure of grief, it is sometimes necessary for the honor of Christ and as an expression of loyalty to his Word to separate from a Christian body.


Separation in History

Separation has a long and esteemed tradition in church history. Even as the Roman church reached the pinnacle of worldliness there were the Waldenses and Albigenses, the Lollards and the Hussites. These small sects sheltered the light of biblical faith in very dark times. During the English Reformation the Separatists broke from the corrupt state church in order to follow pure biblical doctrine and life. These saints became the Pilgrims who settled Plymouth colony and gave our nation its spiritual roots. Even in our own century the drama of separation has unfolded. I was born into a family that was part of a separatist movement; my father was a local church leader in a small denomination that had broken from a liberal mainline Protestant denomination.

The goal of separation is always a more pure church. However, not everyone who becomes convinced that a church needs purification believes that it is best to leave the church. Some become like the Puritans in England who sought to remain and purify (hence the name "Puritan") the church which the Separatists abandoned. Interestingly, the Puritans had to follow the Separatists to Massachusetts a few years later to continue a pure church in a new location. Those who follow the course of the Puritans have not had much success in reforming the churches in which they remained. There are still some conservatives in mainline churches today hoping against hope to reform denominations that have embraced heresy and moral perversion. It appears, however, that their continued presence only serves to add a sense of legitimacy to a clearly apostate group.

When it comes to separating from evangelical churches the choice becomes much more difficult. Again, these churches affirm the right doctrine, and they are often filled with many sincere Christians who love the Lord. But if they deny the Bible when it comes to the teaching and practice of biblical lifestyle, it may be necessary to separate for the sake of Christ and the spiritual health of one's family.


Attitude is Vital

A man ought not normally separate from a church without an attempt to appeal to the church leaders about the perceived problems. After prayer (and fasting) and careful self-examination to deal with selfish motives and divisive attitudes an approach to the leaders should be made. A man must not neglect this step of self-examination. It is all too easy to take the right step (separation) for the wrong reasons (bitterness, rebellion or a factious spirit). Separatists have always had a two-pronged temptation: on the one hand, to a schismatic spirit that denies the unity of the body of Christ; and, on the other hand, to a spirit of pride because they affirm the truth of Scripture and sacrifice for it.

After a man has prepared himself spiritually, made an appeal on the basis of the Word, and received a response from the leaders he must make his decision. If he decides to leave the church he ought to go peacefully and with sorrow, not stirring up a spirit of dissension as he departs.


Get Re-Attached Quickly!

Having left, he must now decide what to do with his family (although he will surely have been considering his options in advance). One thing he should not do is cause his family to become Christian hermits who remain unattached to the body of Christ. It may be necessary for a brief time for a family to worship as their own church until the Lord connects them to a faithful body of His people. But that should be their expectation: that they will become attached to a local body of believers again. Christ wants every Christian to be a committed part of a local assembly of the saints.

If there is no church in his area that is faithful to both Bible doctrine and practice, it may be necessary to begin a new fellowship. Often there are other families who are on the same journey out of compromised churches, and these families can begin meeting together for worship, prayer, fellowship and ministry. If he knows of no such other families, the family head had better pray and ask the Lord to lead him to such so that he can again soon be part of the body of Christ. Surely the Lord will not long leave a family without the opportunity for fellowship with like-minded people.

We live in dangerous and exciting times. Dangerous because of the temptations that accompany the need for separation. Exciting because the Lord is at work calling the remnant of His people out of compromise and into holiness.

May God grant that the result is indeed a purified people who earnestly devote themselves to Christ and His Word.


"This article is taken from a website whose editor is more theological than Biblical in his theology, but it has many excellent Biblically based articles on church covenants, house churches, courtship, etc. As usual, compare with the Scripture." -BC