“Shhh, here comes Mrs. H’ reported Jeff; and all the boys quickly sat up straight in their seats. Mrs. H was known for being strict, and was feared by the young boys in the Sunday School class. After they had their individual classes with their own grade, the children met out in a larger room for group singing. Mrs. H led this time because she could keep everyone in order. Mrs. H had two daughters who seemed to always be obedient and well behaved. Mr. H also worked with the children at times and, like Mrs. H, he didn’t allow any foolishness.
As a boy in Sunday School I observed this family, and knew that their home had many rules for proper conduct. I figured the daughters had to say, “please” and “thank you”. I assumed they had rules about keeping their rooms clean, washing the dishes, picking up their dirty laundry, taking their shoes off on the carpet, helping with yard work, and many other matters of home order and decency. I had many of these same rules at home, so I knew they must have them too. As I grew older, I realized this family did have many rules, and did have good order in the home. I also learned that the parents were very nice, as long as you weren't fooling around. Their daughters were well trained and obedient girls. They were an honor to their parents.
Paul, in writing to Timothy concerning the serious responsibility of choosing proper leaders for the churches, gave him some important principles to guide him in his choices. One vital indicator for determining if a man is qualified to properly lead the church is given in I Timothy 3:4,5, where Paul says, ‘One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)’.
Now, every one agrees that a man who ruleth well his own house with his children in subjection with all gravity will be a man who sets down rules in his home Did you notice the word ‘ruleth and rules arc nearly the same? You cannot rule unless you have rules. Every ruler who cares for his subjects will make laws or rules of conduct to promote and maintain peace and justice for all. A man who rules well his own home is a man who will not tolerate foolishness, rebellion, disrespect, disobedience, or bad character. It is in his blood. He has been disciplined when young; He has disciplined himself; and he is now keeping his home in order also. This same man will run a clean and upright business. This same man would be a good police chief, governor, mayor, etc. This is the type of man Paul wanted for leading the church.
Now, did Paul expect us to take a man like this; ask him to rule well in the church like he does his own home; and then tie his hands and tell him not to make any rules? Tell him that he cannot draw lines between right and wrong? Tell him not to discipline or rebuke disorder or disobedience? Tell him to allow every person to do what is right in their own eyes? Tell him he can teach right, but then he must tolerate everyone disregarding what he teaches before his eyes without doing anything?
This may be what America believes, but is this what Paul believed? Listen to Paul again, only this time he is not speaking to the preacher, but to the people: 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. (Heb. 13:17) The simple truth is that Paul wanted a man who ruled well his own home, because Paul wanted him to do the same in the church. Paul wanted all the homes in the church to become like that of the bishop. Paul wanted rules and order to prevail over lawlessness and disfunction. Paul knew that God is a lover of law and order. God has always laid down rules of order before he would even consider a relationship with man. God will not tolerate rebellion, disorder, or self–will in man. God is a very strict ruler, because true love knows that law and order is the only environment where everyone wins.
Now, we know there are bad rulers who make bad rules. However, we are speaking of rules made by a man who rules well his own home. If a man rules well his own home, he is not a tyrant, but a loving father who knows what is best. Many a father loves his children, but if he does not have himself disciplined, he will either have a lack of discipline in the home, or spontaneous, inconsistent, tyrannical discipline. This is not ruling well. I believe Paul would say, ‘Find a man who rules well his own home in the fear of God, and let him loose to rule the church likewise. Most popular leaders in the church today allow the youth to be wild and worldly – And their own children lead the pack.
When Jesus gave the apostles the great commission, he said for them to disciple all nations by baptizing them in His name and teaching them to observe ALL things he commanded. It should be assumed that, “if they were commanded to teach converts to observe all things Jesus commanded, then if follows that the converts are thereby also commanded to learn to observe all things Jesus commanded. This is clear. The apostles gave the churches many traditions to follow so they could learn to observe all Jesus taught (2 Thess. 2:15). In doing this the Apostles made rules of conduct for the churches to follow in Acts 15. These rules of conduct were then published to all the churches (Acts 16:4,5). They are called "the decrees for to keep”, and all the churches were expected to keep them.
Paul told Timothy in I Timothy 2:9 that, as the apostle of the Gentiles, his will was that these Gentile converts who were women should adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; Doesnt this sound like a strict loving father? Timothy now had the job of making some rules to see that this was carried out in an orderly fashion. Timothy had to decide what should be considered modest, and what should be considered immodest. He, as a ruler of the church, had the liberty to draw productive and practical lines to see that Paul’s orders were followed. The people were expected to follow what Timothy said. These man made rules were God’s will (or His people.
Yes, America, this is New Testament church order! God didn’t make a new covenant with man so he could obtain less obedience, but so he could produce more and better obedience. Read Hebrews 8:8-12, Romans 8:4 and then back to Hebrews 5:9. God says if you don’t obey them that have the rule over you, it will be unprofitable for you on judgment day when your leader gives account of you before God. Now, I hope it is understood that, as with any authority, we must not obey rules that cause us to disobey God; but you had better be sure, as with all other authority, that you are no blinded by bias and self-will. You’d better be sure before you disobey God ordained authority. In Hebrews 5:14 Paul describes mature Christians who are ready to be teachers as those who have their “senses exercised to discern both good and evil". It is then understood that young believers do not yet have their senses exercised to discern good and evil. This is why Paul and Peter teach the younger to submit to the older (I Peter 5:5; I Cor. 16:16).
My enemies have called me a dictator, and this article will not help my reputation; but I cannot have a well ordered home, and a liberal church – I simply cannot operate that way. Love teaches, Love disciplines. Love cannot just look the other way. In the first century apostolic churches, if you did not submit and obey God ordained authority, you were put out of the church by the command of the apostles and lost your hope of Heaven. The early churches were expected to maintain high standards of godliness before the community. This means that every member was accountable to the other members for walking uprightly. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” (I Thess. 3:6) See also Romans 16:17; I Cor. 5:11; I Tim. 6:5.
Why is it that Jesus Christ, when displeased with the churches of Asia, wrote to the ministers and told them to get things straightened out? He expects us to make rules which protect the sheep from the wolves. The Chief Shepherd has no use for an under–shepherd who will not herd and lead the sheep. Listen to what God says about WHY he planned to bless Abraham: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment: that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him “.
My friend, when the LORD finally returns, American church members will then understand that “man–made rules” are not our problem; but the lack of obedience to Christ both by church leaders and members. Lawlessness is of the devil, who seeks to turn God’s grace into lasciviousness through his false teachers. If the youth are not modest, sober, and godly, blame your false doctrine from your false teacher, and blame yourself for following a man who doesn’t preach the whole counsel of God. Find a minister who rules well his own home in the fear of God, and lead your family to submit to his leadership – rules and all. You’ll be glad you did!
In Christian Love, Bro. Mark *
*See further clarification of this subject in our doctrinal pamphlets #7 and #8.