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Do I have to obey my Pastor?

Today’s Question: I read your article on God’s Timing, and was really blessed by it, but it also brought discouragement. I’m at a point in my life where all I want to do is be about my Father’s business. I have such a passion and desire to teach the Word and to win lost souls, but when I went to my pastor, his response was, "No, wait and submit." I was so hurt because I totally feel that God is pleased with these desires. I’m not a novice—I’ve been Spirit-filled for fourteen years, and I have submitted and served. It makes me wish I never would have gone to my pastor for permission. Now, I’ve left that church. Can you point me to any where in the Scriptures where it says we have to get permission to teach or evangelize?

Name Withheld

Bible Answer: The doctrine of submission has been abused by many church leaders. Without knowing all the details, it appears that your former pastor misused his authority.

It is true that the Bible teaches submission to authority, but it also informs us that there are several levels of authority, and with each higher level, more submission is required.

The highest level of authority is Sovereign Authority. The Bible says,

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Rom 13:2)

All governing authorities derive their authority from someone greater than themselves—God! This is why they are called delegated authority. Delegated authorities derived their authority from God, which makes them subservient to Him. The only authority they have has been given to them by God.

On the other hand, God never received authority from anyone. He is the architect of authority. Authority began in Him. We call His authority, sovereign authority.

No one but God has sovereign authority. Sovereign authority can never be disputed. If you don’t like what God tells you to do—too bad! You must obey without question. You don’t have a right to argue with God’s commands. His commands stem from sovereign authority.

Now listen, no one can demand your obedience in the exact same way that God can, including your former pastor.

Peter was forbidden by the religious authorities to preach. What was Peter’s response?

But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. (Acts 4:19)

Peter differentiated between sovereign authority and delegated authority.

Whenever delegated authority demands something other than what God demands, you must obey and submit to God’s authority. To do otherwise is to rebel against sovereign authority.

Atrocities, like the Holocaust, have been permitted because people obeyed the delegated authorities instead of sovereign authority. Cults have been formed because people obeyed religious dictators instead of God. Spousal abuse is often exasperated because women were told by others to submit to their malevolent husbands.

However, whenever delegated authority does not demand us to disobey God, then we should obey them. As in the case with abortion, delegated authority (our government) permits this evil as they do other evils, however they don’t impose this evil on anyone. No one is forced to get abortions, such as they do in China. Since the government does not impose abortion we cannot rebel against the government in this case.

This is why it’s wrong for us in the pro-life movement to break the law, by trespassing, bombing clinics, or, worse, murdering doctors who perform abortions. You see, since the government only permits—does not force abortions—we must abide by this law until the law is overturned.

This brings us to an important point: How do you know whether or not delegated authority is commanding something that is contradictory to God’s com-mands? Could not delegated authority simply claim that God told them to tell you to obey their commands? How do you know whether they have overridden their authority?

The answer is simple: In order to protect us, God would have to make known to us His commands so that we would know what He has commanded. Thankfully He has. The Bible is the sole authority for our lives. So in a practical sense we live by veracious authority. Veracious authority is authority based on truth. If something is the truth, it doesn’t matter what any other authority has to say. Truth overrides all delegated authority.

As in your case, the Word of God commands you to preach the gospel to every creature. Your pastor said, "No, wait and submit." Where does God say to wait first before you preach? He said to the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. Once they were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 15:15).

When there is a difference in interpreting the Bible with those in authority then you must go by your conscience. This is called the authority of the conscience. Paul writes:

Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience." (Rom 13:5)

Conscience plays a high role in authority. Whenever a person transgresses his conscience, then he has sinned. The conscience is given to him as a judge to decide between debatable matters. Debatable matters include drinking, dancing, movies, clothes, etc. Matters that are not up for debate are drunkenness, lewdness, pornography, immodesty, etc.

In conclusion: the four levels of authority are: first sovereign, second veracious, third con-science, and fourth delegated.

As for your ex-pastor telling you not to preach, do it anyway. Simply don’t do it in his church.


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