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Lowell Brueckner

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The Bible Puts Man in His Place


The Bible Puts
Man in His Place

ost commonly, man will exalt himself and take too much upon himself, therefore the Bible gives us scriptures like this: “We have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man (He.8:1-2). They remind us that man is limited to the temporal and earthly, whereas the Lord’s work is eternal.

  There was no greater individual in Jewish history than Moses. Jesus belittled Moses discipleship in His day, “It is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven” (Jn.6:32). According to biblical principal, only that is true, which endures forever. Moses’ manna, essential as it was for that one generation, failed the test, ceasing when the Israelites crossed Jordan.

  Next, it was time to dethrone David from the place that he held in the hearts and minds of the people.  Jesus challenged their overestimation of David with an unanswerable argument straight from the scripture. “‘What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘Then how does David in the Spirit call Him Lord saying, The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet? If David then calls Him Lord, how is He his son?’” (Mt.22:42-45) Christ was more than a descendant of a noble king; He was Lord over that king.

  Jonah was a great prophet, but Jesus said, “Something greater than Jonah is here” (Mt.12:41). Solomon gained worldwide fame, but Jesus claimed, “Something greater than Solomon is here” (Mt.12:42). He consistently put these prominent people in their proper place.

Limiting man’s part
  Jesus drastically limited the power of leadership among his disciples and contrasted it with the authority given to men of the world: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them… but it is not this way with you…” (Lk.22:25-26). “You are all brothers... do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is Christ” (Mt.23:8-10).

  The Bible downplays the part of men in God’s affairs. This is necessary, because the tendency is to bestow too much trust and honor to them. Observe what was happening in Corinth: “You tolerate it, if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face” (2 Co.11:20). The Bible instructs us towards a healthy distrust of men and pronounces a curse upon us, if we confide in them. “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind…whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Je.17:5). He will automatically turn from God in his heart, because he cannot serve two masters.

  Solomon spared no expense in building a luxurious temple. The princes of Israel, the priests and the Levitical singers and players were all present to dedicate it. They experienced a glorious day. As they sang and played, suddenly, “the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister… for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chr. 5:13-14).

  There was no room for mighty King Solomon and his political power, no matter that he was the building’s con-structor. The priests could not find a position. Spiritual pride, the hardest form of pride to deal with, could not get a foothold. The glory of God filled the house and there was no room for men.

Dangers of being a man follower
  Zac Poonen, who came under the claws of a cultist movement in Norway said, “The greatest battle in the Christian life is not the battle against anger or against dirty thoughts. It is the battle against the desire to obtain the approval of men. This is where we must determine to live before God's face alone, if we want to stay free.”

  An astonishing number of cultish groups are arising today. I listened to a message on authority by Erik Dykstra, whose church has grown phenomenally in a short time in Minnesota. The first thing I noticed was that he freely used vulgar language.

  He claims that he has been given a vision for his ministry and everyone is obligated to help him fulfill it or get out. Dykstra uses football ‘punting’ body language to illustrate what he means. One member was married in the church, but when he left, everyone was instructed to ostracize him. So the important part of belonging to this ‘church’ is not to obey Christ and His Word, but to fulfill this man’s vision.

  In the Augsburg Confession, article 28, it states that pastors are given limited authority: To preach the gospel, to administer the ordinances, and to execute church discipline. The New Testament gives no authority to leaders to execute some personal vision apart from that taught in God’s Word.

  Dykstra said that you can be “distracted from Jesus by reading the Bible too much”. He called such people ‘theology nerds’, who are out-of-focus.  He said, if you rebel against authority, destruction is coming your way. On the other hand, if you submit, God will protect you from harm and bless you. He cleverly used the terms “sub” mission and “U boats”.

  Growth is so important that leadership qualities are ignored. There are cell leaders who were not fully decided about whether they were going to follow Christ or not.

Abusive leadership
  Dr. Jorge Erdely is a respected and recognized expert on the themes of religions and sectarianism. He makes this observation concerning abusive leadership. “When someone cannot exercise his ministry based on the truth, in loving and honest service, he has to revert to the use of manipulation and a system of authoritarian government to impose himself over the consciences of people.”

  Saul did that, says Dr. Erdely: “He was so afraid to lose his position that he lived in constant worry. It led him to implant an obsessive system upon God’s people, in order to guard against anyone who might become more popular than he was.”

  “One deviant doctrine about subjection to authority is based on the story of Absalom and David. Taking passages out of context, it   is  said  that anyone  who  questions   a leader or who leaves the organization, is as Absalom, who rebelled against his father... It is a total lack of ministerial ethics to apply the story of Absalom this way.”

  Among five reasons that Erdely gives to destroy this attack is the following: “Absalom did not leave David’s company because of a moral or doctrinal error… Absalom’s intention was to kill his father, not to exhort, correct or simply distance himself from him. What a distortion of scripture to apply this terrible story to the case of honest people, who sincerely question their leaders about the truth of their teaching or who leave their off-course organizations!”

  Dr. Erdely says that not only is it not wrong to correct a leader in his error, but it is our duty: “‘Rebuke them sharply, so that they may be sound in the faith’ (Tit. 1:13). The myth that states that we are not to question the self-proclaimed ‘anointed ones’  is false;  it  is  to contradict the clear commandments of the New Testament.”

  “In the beginning of the Christian church… there were no delicate leaders, who needed to be talked to aside, so as not to jeopardize their ‘authority’… Scriptural truth was the maximum authority and all, including the apostles, submitted to it… The classic sign that an organization has converted into a sect, is when in a practical sense, its leaders are considered a greater authority than the Bible.”

  “How many people have suffered abuse..! How many have been under religious, authoritative organizations seeing manipulations, indiscrete handlings, and even lies and they have kept quiet because of fear! How many groups today have to regress to manipulation and incur fear in order to maintain control…!”

  Realizing that obedience to human authority has been distorted beyond scriptural intentions, I submit this article for your consideration.                                


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