In the last part of these series about the Governing Congregation, the Ecclesia, we are going to talk about democracy in the congregation. Like many of my readers, I grew up with this system. Not only in the congregation but also in my nation. This study is not written against the governments of our nations. The systems they use for politics are none of my concern. We are purely talking about the Ecclesia.
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers.
1 Corinthians 4:15
What does a good father want for his children? He wants to love them, care for them, nurture them, educate them. With what aim? To rule over them for the rest of their lives? Absolutely not. A good father wants the best for his children. What better award is there if the child can reach the same level as his/her father and maybe (hopefully) even exceeds him? Why else do you educate your child? Why else do you nurture them? A good father wants his children to become all they can. He’s there when they fall, to pick them up and to put them on their feet again. To encourage them to continue, through all the disappointments and setbacks. To teach them not to focus on their current circumstances, but on the goal of their lives. And eventually they will grow up to become mature, wise and educated men and women, who are able to stand on their own feet and to pay it forward to their children.
The Bible verses above are showing how important it is for us to become that mature man or woman of God. The Word says that without that maturity, we do not differ at all from a slave. The Word says that we can be the master of all, but as long as we aren’t mature yet, we don’t have authority and are in bondage under the elements of the world. Indeed there are plenty instructors in Christ, and thank God for them. But what we need most are fathers. Those who will stand by our side and who will guide us all the way, to raise us to the point where we are able to raise others as well. That is true discipleship. However, the reality we are facing these days are congregations that are filled with immature people and a small circle of the leadership “elite” being in charge of it all. That doesn’t say much about the congregation, but it does tell a lot about the leadership and the lack of fatherhood.
In many congregations, leaders are being appointed through democracy. Honestly, I don’t know any congregation where leaders aren’t appointed through democracy. You may think that there’s nothing wrong with that, as I have believed for most of my life. After all, the Words says that all leadership is appointed by God and that we should be subject to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1). Let me make it absolutely clear that I strongly believe that this Word is true and that any form of disobedience against any authority over us is rebellion in God’s eyes, which is the sin of witchcraft. Once a leader is appointed in your congregation, you should always be subject to their authority, for he is appointed by God.
If a leader makes a mistake and tells you to follow him in that same mistake, should you follow? That is a question of conscience, isn’t it? Strictly, you are to follow every instruction. Not because of the instruction, not because of the one who gave the instruction, but because of the One Who appointed the leader who gave the instruction. Any form of disobedience makes you guilty of rebellion. Even if it is denying to follow the bad instructions. As I see it, in such situation you are left with only a few options. You can talk with the leader and show him the mistake/sin. If it really is a sin in God’s eyes, and if his heart is still open for the Holy Spirit, then the Spirit will convince him. If not, the instruction will still stand and you are to obey it. The only other option is to go out from under that authority and to leave the congregation. But these are decisions that you should only take after consulting God.
At this point it all seems very clear, right? So the system used doesn’t matter. Whether it is democracy or any other system, we should always be subject to the appointed authorities in the congregation. These teaching are always used to blur our vision. Although it is true that we should be subject to the appointed authorities, there is still one question remaining: Is it the will of God? In other words, is every leader that is appointed by God according to His will? That answer may come as a surprise to you. The answer is no. In fact, many spiritual leaders that are appointed by God, are not chosen because of His will, but because of ‘our’ will. God will just honor our decision by appointing them, because of the authority He gave us. And that makes them a valid leader. But every decision, including the decision to appoint a leader based on our own knowledge, insight and wisdom, has far reaching consequences. A leader after God’s heart will always lead you closer to Him, while any other leader will lead you closer to himself and to his doctrines.
What is true leader in God’s Kingdom? The blueprint for leadership was set by Jesus. And when we look at His life, we see a mighty and powerful Person with all authority. Yet He was and is a humble Person. His way of leading was by serving, to the point of washing the feet of His disciples, which was the ‘lowest’ job. His way of taking care of His people was by giving Himself as a living sacrifice. In order to get us at the point of salvation, healing, deliverance and restoration, He went as far as letting Himself torture and letting them crucify Him, causing Him to die on the cross in shame. There was no other way to get us there, than for Him to go through all of that. We have everything we have because of that sacrifice, because of His beautiful serving and humble character. You want the answer on which leader is after God’s heart and which not? Here you have the example and blueprint. All you have to do is compare the fruits of Jesus to the fruits of the leaders and you’ll have your answer.
Jesus did not act as “the Leader” or as the One with the vision. He did not even attract all the attention to Himself, although He was worthy enough for it. No, He did something completely different and unexpected. While the people were amazed and focused at the great signs and miracles, Jesus pointed to His Father. He acted as the Mediator, which He still does this present day until the moment of the final judgment has passed. He never claimed glory for Himself, but glorified His Father in heaven. That is the image of true leadership. A leader after God’s heart is not a ruler over the congregation, but a mediator, after the image of Jesus.
An example of a ruler and a mediator can be found in the Old Testament as well, along with a serious conclusion of God Himself. In these days, Samuel was the prophet of God. He was the mediator between God and His people. It was all they needed, but they wanted more. They wanted a man with vision. They didn’t want God to reign and judge over them, they rather had a man. Not a mediator but a ruler. God wanted them to have a mediator, someone He used to communicate with His people and to give them the instructions they needed. Someone who was depended on Him. But the people wanted something else. They wanted a ruler. A king to judge them, rather than God judging and reigning over them. Someone who acted based upon his own understanding and wisdom. This was what God had to say about that:
But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”
1 Samuel 8:6-7
Exchanging a mediator for a ruler is considered as rejecting God. In His grace, He even warned them and told them what the result would be. He also told them that they were rejecting Him by wanting this. But this was the answer of the people:
“No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
1 Samuel 8:19-20
Every time the people choose a leader based upon their own knowledge, insight and wisdom, it ended in disaster. Sure, God honored their decision, even though it hurt Him. He appointed a king to them, which became king Saul. God wanted the best for His people, but they wanted otherwise. They only looked in the natural, comparing their selves with other nations.
How can we know which people are after God’s heart and which are not? The answer is simple. We cannot know that. The only way to make that visible is to appoint the people and to see what happens. But by then they are already appointed and the congregation is to submit to that authority. The only way to prevent such situations is to go to the One Who searches our hearts. He knows which people are after His heart. He can and will show us in advance so that we don’t have to make the mistake of appointing the leaders which are not chosen by God.
Democracy is the illusion of control, a tool of witchcraft, which is widely used inside the congregations. How can we tell? By looking at the fruits. Democracy offers:
- The ability to self-appoint people
- The ability to reign by controlling others (chosen leaders)
- That people are governing the leaders (rejection of God’s authority). The leaders are not leading, they are led.
- The ability to send leaders away when it doesn’t please us (people pleasing: Gal. 1:10)
- The ability to change laws that do not please us, by bending them to our own will.
Leaders who are chosen by democracy can also be put out of function by that same democracy. However, in God’s Kingdom you are appointed for life, unless you break His laws. But even then you receive the gracious ability to repent. If you do, you will be restored. If you don’t, you will be put out of function. But not so in democracy. That system is completely build around the opinions of men and a tool to control the leadership. So the leaders can never lead, they are led by the people who choose them. And if they do not want to continue, they can fill their term by doing their own will, to be rejected afterwards. Democracy is completely trusting in your own knowledge, insights and wisdom. Besides that it is rebellion. When it doesn’t please you, you can threat the appointed leader not to choose him next time. So to many leaders, it is no longer about doing the will of God, but about doing the will of the people, in order to get reelected next time. God is no longer in charge of these congregations. We are.
Besides all of this, there is one other very important fruit, which is disunity. The thing democracy does is always bringing division, splitting up the congregation in groups of people, every group with their own opinions and insights. This is happening in the worldwide Congregation, by all the different denominations, as well as inside the several congregations. The various movements are just a fiction, designed to sow discord. All sides/movements/denominations of each conflict are being controlled by the same entity. These conflicts are non-essential drama’s, to lead people away from the core values.
That they may be one as We are.
It all sounds so great and does seem to work so well. But when we do what the Bible says, testing everything, then those who have eyes to see and ears to hear can see the fruits of witchcraft, divination, disunity, discord, hatred, envy, rejection, accusation and conviction. Not immediately of course. As long as you play along, you’ll be just fine and you’ll never notice any of these fruits. But as soon as you have a different opinion or a different view, these fruits will start to become visible. The less you play along, the more you will experience it. All to get our way. All in the name of passion, holiness and religion, yet all opposite fruits of the Holy Spirit, working against God’s Kingdom.
Then how are leaders appointed according to the will of God? God always works through the authority structures. A soldier can never arrange his/her own promotion. A higher rank has to do that for them. Even the higher rank can only promote to the level they are, not further. The thing the leaders of the congregation should do is going into God’s presence. I’m not talking about saying a quick prayer, but seriously taking the time to find out what God has to say. He is the only One Who knows what person is ready for promotion and for the position. That can be someone inside or outside the congregation. In the book of Acts we can read that this process was accompanied by praying and fasting, without any involvement of people.
So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
These people kept a dependent and humble attitude towards God. They consulted Him above everything (and anyone) else. They prayed. They fasted. They waited. And God spoke and showed them who He wanted them to appoint. And without hesitation, they appointed these men. The opinions of people were never involved. Neither was democracy. The only thing that mattered to them was the will of God and doing that will. That avoids a lot of trouble in the congregation!
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
Now you have received several keys and several things to think about. Now test it. Go into His presence and ask Him to reveal His views to you. Then start acting accordingly. The most safe place we can be at is in the perfect will of the Father.