Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. (Hebrews 13:7)
One of the first words we learn to say is, “No!” Now, some children are more compliant than defiant, but we all have this stubborn streak that doesn’t like anybody telling us what to do. Since all authority flows from God—in the nation, the home, on the job, in the school, or the church—our rebellion against authority is at its core, rejection of God’s authority. This is the essence of sin. Isaiah said, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way.” A mark of repentance is that we have turned from our way to God’s way—and this is evidenced in respect for authority. Hebrews 13:7-19 focuses here on submitting to church leaders.
We are to follow THE LEADER’S WORDS (v.7-9). If our pastor’s words line up with the Word of God, and if his conduct is consistent with his communication, then we should follow him.
This will strengthen us in faith (v.7-8). “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom.10:17) True faith rests on Christ and not a communicator. You can follow your leaders as they follow Christ, but ultimately no man is good enough to be the object of faith. We all have feet of clay. It is Christ we worship!
Heeding the Word of God preached will also stabilize us in grace (v.9). This has been a recurring theme throughout Hebrews—the Old Covenant ritual versus the New Covenant grace. A storm of opposition had come to this church comprised of Messianic Jews. All that would keep them anchored in the storm would be the grace of God. There would be the danger of accepting the false doctrine of salvation by works in a religious system—here the false teaching is that eating kosher food was required. Christ is enough!
We are further to follow THE LEADER’S WORSHIP (v.10-16). We gather to hear the Word and to express our worship.
This is a sanctifying focus (v.10-14). Under the Mosaic code, the focus was on the altar at the Temple, the Levitical priests offering bloody sacrifices, and all the ritual accompanying it. Yet, these could never truly satisfy God’s righteous demands—that demanded the sacrifice of Jesus. He was rejected by men, and died outside the gates of Jerusalem as an outcast—even God-forsaken as He was made sin for us! My task is like John the Baptist’s to say, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” We take up our cross to gain the crown (v.14). It will be worth it all!
There will be sacrificial fruit (v.15-16). This will include the sacrifice of a grateful heart (v.15) in which we express our love for God and the sacrifice of a generous hand (v.16) that shows our love for man. Worship is surrendering all! (Rom.12:1).
Follow also THE LEADER’S WATCHFULNESS (v.17). The shepherd not only feeds the sheep, he leads the sheep—even willing to bleed for them. He guides them and guards them.
Pastors have an eternal accountability (v.17a). Only a pastor understands what a burden this is. How much value there is in a soul! What grave matters he deals with!
Pastors can have an earthly profitability (v.17b). Your response to your leader will determine if he has grief or gladness! Your choices decide if the sermon is profitable. Follow your leader!