1. Hebrews 13 contains a number of instructions that are designed to help the Lord's people remain faithful to Him, including: a. showing love and hospitality to others (vs.1-3) b. maintaining faithfulness and purity in marriage relations (vs.4) c. avoiding covetousness and being content (vs.5-6) d. remembering faithful instructors from the past (vs.7) e. following Christ's example of steadfastness (vs.8-9) f. offering sacrifices (vs.10-16). 2. (vs.17) The Lord's people are to obey and submit to their leaders.
I. LET US IDENTIFY THE "RULERS" [LEADERS] UNDER CONSIDERATION
A. The Lord's plan is for each congregation to be led by a special group of men. 1. Paul and Barnabas ordained elders in every church (Acts 14:23). 2. Titus was instructed to ordain elders in every city (Titus 1:5). 3. The church in Philippi had bishops as well as deacons (Philippians 1:1). B. Only qualified men may serve in this capacity (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). C. In the Bible, congregational leaders are referred to as "elders" (Acts 14:23), "overseers" (Acts 20:28), "pastors" (Ephesians 4:11), and "bishops" (1 Timothy 3:1).
II. ELDERS HAVE WEIGHTY RESPONSIBILITIES
A. (Hebrews 13:17) One responsibility is to "watch" for the souls of the congregation they lead. 1. Watch: "to exercise constant vigilance" (as a shepherd watches over his sheep) 2. Elders will give account for the manner in which they watch over the flock. B. Additional responsibilities are revealed in: 1. Acts 20:28-31 -- taking heed to self, taking heed to all the flock, feeding the flock, protecting the flock 2. 1 Peter 5:1-3 -- feeding the flock (as a shepherd leads his sheep to green pastures), overseeing the flock (to inspect, to look after, to care for), not being lords, setting the proper example 3. Titus 1:9-11 -- holding fast the faithful Word, exhorting, convincing, and shutting the mouths of gainsayers 4. James 5:14 -- visiting and caring for the sick.
III. THE LORD'S PEOPLE ARE TO OBEY AND SUBMIT TO THEIR LEADERS
A. As elders fulfill their responsibilities, members of the flock are to submit to their leadership. B. Doing so will allow the elders to do their work with joy and not with grief.
IV. LET US DETERMINE WHETHER A CONGREGATION MAY EXIST WITHOUT ELDERS
A. In making this determination, let us consider 2 principles. 1. First, newly established congregations in the New Testament existed for a time before elders were appointed. 2. Second, a congregation may not have men who are qualified to be elders. B. Let us also consider the example set by the church in Jerusalem. 1. We learn from Acts 15:2 that this church eventually had elders. 2. However, in Acts 6:1-7, a matter was taken care of before elders are mentioned. a. A problem developed in this congregation (vs.1). b. The apostles dealt with this matter before the church, and they involved the members (vs.2-4). c. All the people involved cooperated, and the church continued to grow (vs.5-7).
When the leaders of a congregation follow Christ and the members follow their leaders, faithfulness will result.