Remember Your Leaders
May 10, 2020
Hebrews 13:7-19 Final Applications
Certain times in life, you are more vulnerable than others.
- Times like these, believers rely on leadership.
- Spiritual leaders are essential for keeping on track.
- The writer of Hebrews could have closed with any applications.
- What he chose is telling, somewhat surprising, and on point.
- Brotherly love is to continue.
- In what way?
- Persevere mission, in persecution (“mistreated”), in marriage, NOT in money-love.
- Now, “Remember your leaders.”
- What? A basic call to submission.
- One more appeal to hearts being soft.
“Picture, someone who played a significant role in your Christian life?”
“Remember” (v. 7).
- Someone who led you to Christ.
- Who sat with you in crisis.
- Met you where you are.
- Helped you find grace.
- Did not judge.
- Became your mentor.
- Met you regularly.
- Invested their heart into yours.
- Loved you.
- Answered your questions about life.
- About doctrine.
- Pointed you to Scripture.
- Prayed with you, for you.
- Followed up.
This is a rare treasure. If you have had this kind of relationship, you know what the author is talking about.
- “Remembering” just might move you to tears.
- “How do you survive vulnerable moments?”
- “Want to give up or throw your faith away?” --- “Remember” (v. 7).
The context here is more mystery than anything.
- Early Christians pressured, probably far from home (i.e. Jerusalem) (cf. Heb. 13:24…Italy)?
- What about the early Christians still in Jerusalem.
- “I just want to go back to my old ways.”
- Faith is harder than conformity.
- Structured religion may protect me.
Hebrews 10 offers small windows into recent threats and hard realities.
ESV Hebrews 10:32-34 But recall the former days when, after ayou were enlightened, you endured ba hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being apublicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.34 For ayou had compassion on those in prison, and byou joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had ca better possession and an abiding one.
- Tying this to Hebrews 12:4, the air is high persecution up to possible death.
ESV Hebrews 12:4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Hard struggles clarify a Christian’s need for godly leadership.
By the way, these “leaders” in verse 7 are the same as in verse 17.
- The same word used for “leaders” in both verses.
- Immediate context proves the same person and the same role.
- Verse 7 is the credibility of verse 17.
- Leaders in the local church.
Leadership is applied across the board in terms of mentoring.
- Men mentor men and women mentor women.
- Parents mentor children.
- Men lead and teach groups etc.
Here the leader is a local church leader.
- A pastor or elder or overseer.
- Three explicit titles covering one office.
- Verses use broad strokes covering the basic functions of this leader.
- The very title is the function.
“Leaders” imply followers.
- Everyone is a follower.
- Either following the Lord or Satan.
- Our Lord Jesus (perfect human also God) followed his Heavenly Father.
“Leaders” in the church are likewise still followers.
- A church leader follows the Lord and is submissive to the eldership.
- A true leader is a lifetime learner.
- A leader who stops learning is dead is a deadener.
- The attitude of a godly leader is a servant and a lifetime learner.
- Any other posture assumes the role of a cult leader.
ESV 3 John 1:9-10 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
- Verse 11 clarifies where we are headed in our primary text.
ESV 3 John 1:11 Beloved, ado not imitate evil but imitate good. bWhoever does good is from God; cwhoever does evil has not seen God.
Back to verses 7-9.
The role of godly leadership
1. Godly leaders base their authority on God’s Word
The gift of teaching is a requirement for this role.
Apart from Scripture the elder, pastor, overseer has no authority.
- The qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3 have a single function.
- “able to teach” (v. 2).
- Gift of teaching.
- Someone who “speaks, as one who speaks the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11).
- Gift possessed by others in the body of Christ, not exclusively for qualified elders.
- A Shepherd (nevertheless) is ill-equipped to lead without it.
- No tool to build with.
- No weapon to defend the flock with.
- No grid through which to discern.
- Titus 1 (parallel section) makes clear, teaching is not academics.
ESV Titus 1:9-11 He must ahold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in bsound1 doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. 10 For there are many who are insubordinate, aempty talkers and deceivers, especially those of bthe circumcision party.11 They must be silenced, since athey are upsetting whole families by teaching bfor shameful gain what they ought not to teach.
- A “leader” holds firm convictions (from learning), then turns around, and teaches.
- He then fends off false teachers and false teachings.
Why? Because great damage takes place when false leaders are left to themselves.
- The motivation of a false leader is “for shameful gain” (Titus 1:11; cf. 1 Pet. 5:2 “shepherd…not for shameful gain”).
- 2 Peter 2:2-3, 10, 14, 18-19.
“What shuts this down?” Teaching truth.
By the way, the context of Hebrews 13 is fending off false teaching.
- Acts 20 opens with a humorous story about Paul teaching for a long time!
ESV Acts 20:7-12 aOn the first day of the week, when we were gathered together bto break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.8 There were many lamps in athe upper room where we were gathered.9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he afell down from the third story and was taken up dead.10 But Paul went down and abent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, b"Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him."11 And when Paul had gone up and ahad broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.
- This is an example ofat Paul had done for his entire ministry.
- What Paul had done in Ephesus for three years.
ESV Acts 20:20 how I adid not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and bteaching you in public and from house to house
ESV Acts 20:27-32 for aI did not shrink from declaring to you bthe whole counsel of God. 28 aPay careful attention to yourselves and to all bthe flock, in which cthe Holy Spirit has made you doverseers, eto care for fthe church of God,1 which he gobtained hwith his own blood.229 I aknow that after my departure cfierce wolves will come in among you, bnot sparing the flock;30 and afrom among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.31 Therefore abe alert, remembering that bfor three years I did not cease night or day cto admonish everyone dwith tears.32 And now aI commend you to God and to bthe word of his grace, which is able to cbuild you up and to give you dthe inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
This is functional leadership.
- Expectations mount in terms of what spiritual leader is supposed to do in a church.
- Functioning as a chaplain.
- Paid sacerdotal duties.
- Remember that the Body of Christ is not made up of consumers.
- The Body is functionally commanded to carry out the work of the ministry
- 4:12 “…equip the saints for the work of the ministry”.
- Leaders teach Scripture.
Two final thoughts.
First, the leader teaches Scripture not self.
- Not inspirational stories. Not Schick. Not personality cult. No!
- Scripture is his curriculum.
Second, the Body of Christ must be taught and not one time but all the time.
- You do not need to hear the Bible once and say, “I’ve got it!”
- The Scripture acts as guardrails to keep you on track.
- Driving Seward Highway, easy to become distracted.
- Turning attention from the road could mean death. Guard rails could save your life.
- Nothing less than being taught the Bible will change, shape, and transform your life.
- Gimmicks or philosophy promise life-change but never work.
Nothing measures to the Word.
2. Godly leaders live a life commensurate with God’s truth
Leaders establish a pattern of life for others to follow.
- I have to say upfront that I believe the “leaders” are presumably alive.
- “Remembering” them is not definitively saying they are dead.
- They may be martyrs. Geographical distance may also factor in.
- The idea is both having observed how someone lived and/or how someone lives.
There is a variety of learning styles.
- People learn differently.
- Some are visual and others auditory.
- Some are cognitive and logical while others are kinesthetic.
- Some process data through writing or contemplation while others verbal process.
- Some demand precision and sequence while others learn by osmosis and emotional quotient.
Mostly I have seen blending of all within the scope of a variety of personalities, capacities, and physicalities.
- People are all different.
- Though people learn differently, there is no replacement observation.
- Learning from someone who has mastered something.
Face to face interaction, master to apprentice is so powerful.
- This is why you often see family businesses.
- Political names trend.
- See this in military and business.
- Professional coaches (and athletes) pass the mantle down father to son.
- The learning curve flattens by simply how much is effortlessly gained by being around a particular occupation.
What makes face to face interaction superior to lifestream!!!
- Being there is better.
- Technology can take us just so far but the heart craves to be present.
The author calls believers to “Remember” what “leaders…spoke” but then to “Consider” how they lived.
- In particular, “their way of life” (v. 7).
- This pushes to an action step, to “imitate their faith” (v. 7).
- A godly leader lives what he taught. Practices what he preaches.
Personal experience tells me everything lives and dies in my home.
- I am regularly reminded that “I need to live what I preach.”
Verse 7 “Consider the outcome of their way of life” (v. 7).
- “Where did their faith take them?”
- “When I compare this believer’s life and direction to someone else, how do they match up?”
- Believed basic truths and did not compromise.
- “How did this work out for them in their home?”
- Their job?
- Their contribution to their community?
- “What was their influence?”
- People with little to no moral compass or conscience leave wreckage in their wake.
- People who walk a biblical path might not be perfect but have a righteous influence.
“So what are you supposed to do?”
- “Imitate [mimeisthe] their faith” (v. 7).
- Copy what they do.
- One thing to try and put something together from the instructions and it is entirely easier after watching someone who has done it before.
- The miracle of YouTube videos. Right?
- Academic institutions will continue.
- The virtual church is not a legitimate substitute for real church.
“How does this leader grow spiritually?” “How does this leader keep growing?”
- Pray like them?
- Read the Bible like them?
- Serve like them?
When I went to college, I used to rock climb.
- I enjoyed it but realized, I am a klutz and would never climb without a handler.
- I had one, so I climbed.
- This person had all the equipment and skill to where I literally could place my life in his hands.
- He told me what to do, where to stand, what to wear, how to use my legs, fingers (with powder), how to look for handholds etc.
One time he taught me to repel.
- He tied everything off, using all kinds of mechanisms.
- He put me in my harness. I was “on belay.”
- He walked me to the edge and said, “Ok lean back.”
- I did and inching my way down to where he promised there would be a ledge to land on.
Going down I realized I was parallel to the edge and had to bounce myself over.
- I looked up and this person with two flying hops was next to me.
- He climbed back up and stood at the top and said do what I do.
- This version went much better.
- I could actually see where to climb and how to do it.
One of the amazing benefits of observing a leader is learning what to do and what not to do!
- Avoiding pitfalls of life.
- The benefit of having older siblings.
- “You know who you are.”
Verse 8 answers why you can trust godly leadership.
3. Godly leaders yield themselves to Jesus (v. 8)
As I said before, leaders are lifetime learners.
- No leader is perfect and no leader should be put on a pedestal to be worshipped.
- Every spiritual leader yields to the chief Shepherd.
ESV 1 Peter 5:1-4 So I exhort the elders among you, aas a fellow elder and ba witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:2 ashepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,1 bnot under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;2 cnot for shameful gain, but eagerly;3 not adomineering over those in your charge, but bbeing examples to the flock.4 And when athe chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the bunfading ccrown of glory.
- All of the attributes of a godly leader flow out of an understanding that a pastor, elder, overseer is simply an under shepherd.
- Nothing more nothing less.
- Leadership flows from this understanding, posture, and attitude.
Verse 8 strikes a clear contrast between a man who leads and Jesus.
- Men are transient and imperfect.
- Jesus is immutable!
- He never changes.
- He is God.
ESV Psalm 90:1-2 A aPrayer of Moses, the bman of God. Lord, you have been our cdwelling place1 in all generations.2 aBefore the bmountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, cfrom everlasting to everlasting you are God.
ESV John 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, aI am."
The opening of John’s Revelation grounds all of history and all of prophecy on the truth of Christ being immutable.
ESV Revelation 1:1-8 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God agave him bto show to his servants1 the things that must soon take place. cHe made it known by sending his angel to his servant2 John,2 awho bore witness to the word of God and to bthe testimony of Jesus Christ, even cto all that he saw.3 aBlessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, bfor the time is near.4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from ahim bwho is and cwho was and who is to come, and from dthe seven spirits who are before his throne,5 and from Jesus Christ athe faithful witness, bthe firstborn of the dead, and cthe ruler of kings on earth. To dhim who loves us and ehas freed us from our sins by his blood6 and made us aa kingdom, apriests to bhis God and Father, to him be cglory and ddominion forever and ever. Amen.7 Behold, ahe is coming with the clouds, and bevery eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail1 on account of him. Even so. Amen.8 a"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, b"who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
Christians never blindly follow men. NO HERO WORSHIP - A man.
- We follow Jesus who is our rock and anchor.
- Jesus' immutable nature is why we can trust his Lordship which is over church leadership.
- We ultimately look to him as he uses “leaders” in our lives.