The Holy Spirit & the Local Church 4

Responsibilities of Local Church Members, Part One
by Pastor John Hamel

“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 is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

We are still talking about the Holy Spirit controlling and guiding the Local Church.  In our last two lessons we saw how the Holy Spirit appoints Leaders to the Local Church.  Of course, the true Leader of every Local Church under Jesus is the Pastor.  No Apostle or Prophet has the right to come throwing his weight around in a Church that he did not establish.  

Unfortunately, it is necessary to say this because there have been self-appointed Apostles and Prophets who have attempted to do this.  No Pastor is expected to tolerate this. 

My Pastor happens to be a Prophet.  Fortunately, he understands that I am the appointed leader of my congregation and that he is a guest whenever he is in my Church, even though his office is higher than my Pastoral office.  Because I know that he would never attempt to usurp authority, I can comfortably and confidently allow him to flow with the Holy Spirit as he sees fit, never being intimidated or threatened by him.  This is how the Ministry Offices are supposed to work together.  Ministry is not a power play.  Ministry is “preferring one another in love” and respecting one other’s Anointings

We also saw in our last two lessons that the Holy Spirit decides what Church we are to attend and who is to be our Pastor.  We saw how the Holy Spirit sets the order for worship and some of the many ways the Holy Spirit manifests in public services.  

We will continue studying how the Holy Spirit controls and guides the operation of the Local Church, but with a slightly different emphasis.  We are going to see exactly what it is the Holy Spirit expects from each and every member of the Local Church.  What the Holy Spirit expects from Church members is so simple and plainly stated in the Bible that there is no excuse for ignorance.  There is no excuse for going contrary to the will of God as to how we conduct ourselves as Local Church members.  

If every Believer would consecrate himself or herself to obey what is written in the Bible, we would come nearer to the unity that the Holy Spirit is calling us to.   

Church government, like all other forms of government, is a reality.  We must make the decision to get ourselves in the Church God is calling us to and govern ourselves according to the Word of God.  The Pastor’s job is not to run an adult daycare center.  The Pastor cannot do what God is calling him to do when he has to spend ninety percent of his time corralling wayward sheep and bailing them out of unnecessary, self-created messes. 

Each of us has a moral and a Scriptural obligation to obey the Pastor as he governs in line with the Word of God.  This is made very clear in our opening text.  Let me share with you now your responsibilities as a consecrated Believer and a member of a Local Church.  Keep in mind these are not my commands.  These are the commands of the Holy Spirit.

The Importance of "Like-Minded" Fellowship

“And being let go, THEY WENT TO THEIR OWN COMPANY, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.” (Acts 4:23)

Peter and John were imprisoned for preaching Christ with miracles following.  When they were released “they went to their own company” for prayer and agreement.  This means they went and found the other Believers who believed that God would intervene and protect them.  They did not go and find Believers who did not believe that God would intervene and protect them.  The Holy Spirit will lead you to a Church that believes the Bible the way you believe the Bible. 

I have had more people see me on television and call me for counsel.  I always ask them, “Why are you coming to me and not to your own Pastor?”  They almost always say the same thing, “Because he doesn’t believe the Bible like you believe the Bible.”  I always say the same thing, “Then why are you over there and not over here?” 

You need to be in a Church where the Pastor believes what you believe.  A Pastor who does not know or believe the Bible like you cannot be much help to you.

Love & Highly Esteem Your Pastor Superabundantly

“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to ESTEEM THEM VERY HIGHLY IN LOVE FOR THEIR WORK'S SAKE. And be at peace among yourselves.” (1Thessalonians 5:12-13)

The literal Greek actually says “to esteem the Pastor beyond measure and superabundantly.”  Even if you do not agree with the Pastor about some minor things, God still requires you to love him superabundantly.  Take care of the Pastor and God will take care of you.  Resist the Pastor and God will resist you. (James 4:6,7)

Submit Yourself Willingly to Your Pastor

“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 is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

The Greek word for “obey” in this verse actually means, “agree with and be friendly.”  The Greek word for “submit” means “to yield or surrender.”  This does not mean that the Pastor can lord it over you and that you have to do what they say, when they say it and how they say it.  We know this because the Greek word for “rule” in this verse means, “to give shepherd-like leadership.”  

A shepherd cares.  A shepherd loves and a shepherd guides gently. (1Peter 5:1-8)  Although the shepherd has authority to discipline when necessary, he is still called to gently admonish and teach the Word patiently.  We should never make his job difficult.  Jesus is the perfect example of a Shepherd.  He made it easy for people to submit to Him, even when it was hard.  He did this by loving them unconditionally.

Be Faithful in Church Attendance & Service

“NOT FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING OF OURSELVES TOGETHER, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

Assembling ourselves together is not a good suggestion; it is a Holy Spirit command.  We need to be together to draw strength from one another, from the preaching of the Word and by the operation of the Gifts of the Spirit.  Dr. Lester Sumrall used to say, “The first banana to leave the bunch is the first banana to get peeled.  The first log to roll away from the fire is the first one to cool off.”  (Acts 2:40-47; 1Thessalonians 5:11-23; 1Timothy 3:15; 4:11-16)

Pray for Your Pastor(s) & Their Spouse(s) 

“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye STRIVE TOGETHER WITH ME IN YOUR PRAYERS TO GOD FOR ME; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;” (Romans 15:30-31)

No Pastor ever reaches such spiritual heights that they are no longer in need of prayer. (Hebrews 13:18; 2Thessalonians 3:1)  Pray for your Pastor the way Paul requested prayer for himself.  Paul requested prayer to be delivered from those who did not believe the way he did.  

You will never know what your Pastor goes through with other Pastors and Christians who do not agree with his faith teaching.  Paul also requested prayer that he would be accepted of the saints.  You can pray that your Pastor and their spouse would find favor and good understanding with everyone they encounter. (Psalm 5:12)

Support Your Local Church with Your Finances 

“And HERE MEN THAT DIE RECEIVE TITHES; BUT THERE HE [Jesus] RECEIVETH THEM, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.” (Hebrews 7:8)

Both the Hebrew and Greek words for “tithe” mean “one tenth.”  The Bible says that one-tenth of all of our income is to be set aside for the work of the Lord.  It is holy and it belongs to God. (Leviticus 27:30)  We are to pay our tithes in the storehouse (the Local Church) where we receive the strong meat of God’s Word. (Malachi 3:8-11)  

Our tithes allow the Pastor to dedicate himself to prayer and the Word as opposed to the distraction of secular employment. (1Corinthians 9:14)  Although we pay our tithes to our Pastors here on Earth, the Bible says that Jesus receives them in Heaven. 

People who are unwilling to tithe do not have a prayer when it comes to Biblical prosperity.  Only the willing and obedient eat the good of the land in God’s economy. (Isaiah 1:19)  

Not only must we pay tithes, we must pay an additional offering over and above our tithe. (Malachi 3:8)  Although God has predetermined the tithe amount and where it is to be paid, the Believer is allowed to determine how much their offering will be and where it will go. (1 Corinthians 9:7)  The Holy Spirit leads the Believer in this.  

The amount we give over and above our tithe determines our financial rate of return. (2Corinthians 9:6)  See “Biblical Prosperity in Perspective” under the curriculum heading "Supernatural Provision" at our JHM Online Bible Training Centre.

Support Your Church Missionary Program

“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.  And WHEN THEY HAD FASTED AND PRAYED, AND LAID THEIR HANDS ON THEM, THEY SENT THEM AWAY.” (Acts 13:2-3)

The Apostle Paul was a Pastor but he was also an Apostle/Missionary.  Maybe your Pastor is an Apostle/Missionary and must spend time traveling as well as overseeing his local flock.  Support him in this and do not resist him.  

Maybe your Church supports a Missionary and you are not yet involved.  It is vital that you get involved. (Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15-20) Everyone doing a little something equals a great big something.  You will be credited with every soul saved through your Church’s Missionary program if you are involved even in the smallest way. 

If your Church has no Missionary program, maybe you should pray that God would use you to spearhead one.

Keep Yourself Teachable, Correctable & Humble

“…Yea, ALL OF YOU BE SUBJECT ONE TO ANOTHER, AND BE CLOTHED WITH HUMILITY: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1Peter 5:5)

Many Believers are teachable in that they thrive on learning new things from the Bible.  But there is a difference between being teachable and being correctable.  You may love learning new things from the Bible but if you are thin skinned, moody and throw a fit every time you are in need of correction, you are resisting the Holy Spirit. 

Do not find fault with the person that the Holy Spirit sends to correct you.  Stand there and be quiet and ask the Holy Spirit in your heart, “Is there any truth to this at all, Holy Spirit?  If there is and this is You correcting me, I need to know it.”  (Hebrews 12:6-11) 

We will cover the subject of correction in lessons six, seven and eight of this series. 

In our next lesson we will continue to see what the Holy Spirit requires of each and every member of Christ’s Body.

Be Blessed … John and Barbara Hamel



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