Church Leaders and False Authority

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:17-18 NKJV

Monday’s section of this week’s lesson describes what is meant in Deuteronomy where it says God is no respecter of persons.

The phrase “shows no partiality” is translated from a Hebrew figure of speech; it means literally that He does not “lift up faces.” This is believed to have come from a legal setting in which the judge or king sees the face of the person on trial and, based on that person’s status (important person or someone insignificant), the judge or king renders a verdict. The implication here in Deuteronomy is that the Lord doesn’t treat people in such a manner, despite His great power and might. He’s fair with everyone, regardless of their status. This truth, of course, was revealed in the life of Jesus and how He treated even the most despised in society. –Sabbath School Quarterly Week 12 Monday’s lesson.

In an interview with David Frost, Richard Nixon, a former United States President, forced to resign due to a scandal, defended himself by saying, “If the President does it, then it is not illegal.” This bold statement shocked David Frost, and every other competent thinker! I believe, in the United States, people really started to question their leaders after Nixon’s downfall. I believe we keep a healthy balance of respect for leadership, without blind submission, when we ask for accountability and checks and balances. In the United States we have a constitution the President must hold to. The Constitution also declares who ultimately has the authority. It reads, “We the people.” Not “me the president” or “me Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison, or Ronald Regan or Barak Obama.” The power and authority of the constitution comes from ‘The People!” Therefore our president is not above the law. To expect people to automatically obey you no matter what just because of your title or position is a false sense of authority. 

In the church we have the Scriptures as our sole authority, and our leaders must be held accountable. Good honest pastors recognize this. Having served many years as a Bible worker and lay pastor I have worked with many pastors. They do not think they are above me because of their position or college degree. If we disagree they do not automatically assume they are right because of their position. If they feel I need corrected they do not reference their position or degree. They reference Scripture alone. If I disagree with them they listen with an open mind. If I correct them from Scripture they bow, not to me but to the Scriptures. 

Just like in the United States, the President is not above the people, likewise church leaders are not above the church.

“The church is built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its head. It is not to depend upon man, or be controlled by man. Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. …. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency. “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” The Lord “is the Rock, His work is perfect.” “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Jeremiah 17:5Deuteronomy 32:4Psalm 2:12.- Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 414.

Many years ago, I heard the testimony of a church leader, defending himself for some shady deals, saying his boss, the conference president, told him to do it, therefore he had no choice but to obey his boss who had “authority.” I am sure Joab was thinking the same thing when King David told him to put Uriah on the front lines of the war. Please read what God’s messenger has to say about Joab’s rationale.

“And Joab, whose allegiance had been given to the king rather than to God, transgressed God’s law because the king commanded it. David’s power had been given him by God, but to be exercised only in harmony with the divine law. When he commanded that which was contrary to God’s law, it became sin to obey. “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1), but we are not to obey them contrary to God’s law. The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, sets forth the principle by which we should be governed. He says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1. –Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 719.

We need to be respectful of authority, but remember where authority ultimately comes from. And while respecting those in leadership, and even being in leadership, we must remember we are accountable to the Scriptures and God’s church, of which Christ is the Head. 

I have seen so called “mediation” sessions between pastors and lay members which actually had nothing to do with mediation. the mediators were not seeking justice. They were ganging up on the abused lay member. They were solely there to protect the pastor regardless if he was right or wrong. He was the pastor and that was all that mattered. I even heard an associate pastor tell me once that the pastor is right simply because he is the pastor. To question him or to hold him accountable would be an act of deepest disrespect. Sorry, but claiming a pastor is always right simply because he is the pastor is a false sense of authority. God is no respecter of persons and would never fall for such a lie, and God does not expect you to fall for it either. 

Years ago, in another conference the church board overwhelmingly voted against the pastor using all of the church’s worthy student fund to pay for his own child’s church school tuition. The following Sabbath guess what the pastor’s sermon was about? “pastoral authority!” And how disrespectful it was, even sinful to the point of losing your soul’s salvation if you were to ever disobey the pastor or not give him what he demands. Sure, the pastor twisted Scripture to his own destruction to prove his point, just like Satan twisted Scripture when he told Jesus to jump off a cliff. I hope I don’t need to tell you this, but the pastor had a false sense of authority.  Sadly some fell for it. 

While the Bible teaches us to be respectful, nowhere does Scripture ever tell us a leader is above the law. Nowhere in Scripture does it tell us a leader has special privileges and should never be questioned or held accountable. Nowhere does the Bible teach us that a pastor is right just because he is the pastor. On the contrary the Bible teaches us in Deuteronomy  10:17-18 as well as all throughout Scripture, that God is no respecter of a person’s title or position.

As a matter of fact, instead of giving pastors and teachers a free pass in the judgment, based solely on their position, James says,

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. James 3:1 NKJV 

To me, that sounds like anything but preferential treatment for pastors and teachers. James goes on to say,

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:17 NKJV 

Let’s stop supporting false authority in the church. 

but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:9 NKJV

Death and the Resurrection in Light of the Cross

 As we consider the resurrection of Moses in this week’s Sabbath school lesson, lets take a look at the resurrection in general. In John 14 Jesus knows the disciples are going to miss Him when He goes away so he comforts them.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:3 NKJV

Notice Jesus has to come again in order for His disciples to be with Him again. They do not die and go straight to heaven, otherwise Jesus would have comforted them by saying, “When you die you will go straight to heaven and see me.” He never even hinted at such a notion. Jesus makes it clear that they will only be reunited with Him when He comes again. He receives them unto Himself when He comes again, and not when they die. This is why the special resurrection of Moses was so important. Without it Moses would still be in his grave. If Moses died and went straight to heaven then his resurrection in Jude 9 would be meaningless. If we die and go straight to heaven then why is the resurrection be such a crucial theme of the New Testament? Let’s take a look at what the Bible really Says about death and the resurrection. 


Death is a state of unconscious sleep. The dead do not know anything at this time and are not awakened until the last trump at Christ’s second coming. See Ecclesiastes 9:5-6Job 14:121 Corinthians 15:51-551 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Why is it important to know the truth about death:
The teaching that you don’t really die is a lie Satan started in the Garden of Eden when he told Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” By telling this lie Satan hoped to get Eve and all mankind to believe that there is really no consequence for disobeying God. He also wants us to believe that we are all immortal even if we have no relationship with God. This opens the door for spiritualism in which people may actually communicate with the devil and his angels, thinking they are speaking with their loved ones.

Our salvation does not come from knowing what happens when we die. Our salvation is found alone in God’s love. However, no lie is ever harmless, and when Satan told the lie, “Ye shall not surely die,” not only was he lying, but he was also calling God a liar.

Why understanding death in the light of the cross is important:
If you don’t really die, then Jesus did not really die for us, and we still need a Savior. The lie that we don’t really die destroys the cross and everything Jesus endured and accomplished on it. If Jesus was not really tasting death like Hebrews 2:9 says He did, then we have just minimized the cross to a six-hour pain endurance marathon.

I remember sitting in a funeral for a little girl who was hit and killed by a car. Her mother sat on the front pew, sobbing uncontrollably. Meanwhile the pastor talked about how happy the little girl and Jesus were right now up in heaven. Do you know how cruel that made Jesus look to the poor mother? Would Jesus tear a mother’s heart apart just to go have fun with her daughter? I think not! The little girl is resting in her grave and will be united with Jesus in heaven when the mother is reunited with her at the second coming.

For Further study on Death:
What did Adam become?
And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

What returns to God?
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

What is the spirit?
All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; Job 27:3

What does God take that turns the body to dust?
Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Psalm 104:29

What age-old question did Job ask?
But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where [is] he? Job 14:10

What is the Bible answer?
So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens [be] no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. Job 14:12

Do the dead know what happens to the living?
His sons come to honour, and he knoweth [it] not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth [it] not of them. Job 14:21

How much do the dead know?
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:5–6

What did Jesus call death?
These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. John 11:11-14

How long had Lazarus been dead?
Then when Jesus came, he found that he had [lain] in the grave four days already. John 11:17

Did Martha believe Lazarus was in heaven?
Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. John 11:24

What did Mary say?
Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. John 11:32

Was Lazarus called from heaven, hell or the grave?
And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11: 43-44

The Resurrection

When are the dead raised?
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 1 Corinthians 15:16-23

When do we receive immortality?
Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Our hope and comfort:
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. for this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Hebrews: The 5th Gospel

I believe the  book of Hebrews should definitely be considered with the other four gospels. It is a continuation of the Life of Jesus. It gets us up to date on what Jesus is currently doing. Jesus did not just ride off in the sunset after the resurrection. He is actively changing lives, healing and forgiving just like when He walked the earth. So I like to call the book of Hebrews the fifth gospel, right after Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Hebrews was written for two reasons.

1.To turn people’s attention to Jesus’ ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. This book, written just 4 or 5 years before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, was meant to turn the heads of people away from the earthly sanctuary. Even today people in Israel weep for the old sanctuary to be rebuilt. Instead they should be looking at Jesus and where He is today. They should put their hope in Jesus and not a man made temple. Just as the book of Hebrews directed people to put their hope in contemplating Jesus instead of a temple that was soon to collapse, so today Hebrews encourages us to put our hope in Jesus instead of a social security system that is about to collapse or a stock market that may soon crumble and fall.

2.To encourage people’s faith that Jesus is the Messiah and will return. The new Christian believers were expecting Jesus to return right away, and many, especially in the face of persecution were losing faith when He did not come back right away. Hebrews 1 points out that Jesus was God. Hebrews 2 points out that this God did indeed become a man just like us. In Hebrews 3 and on, it points us to what Jesus is currently doing as our High Priest before He returns.

Here is a brief summary:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Hebrews 1:1-2

This same Jesus who came to earth and died, is also God. He made the worlds! Many were beginning to doubt if He was the Messiah since He did not come right back. Shall we look for another? No. Jesus was God.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he took on [him] the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:14-18

This same Jesus who is God also became a man just like us.

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Hebrews 3:1

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Hebrews 10:16-17

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Hebrews 12:1-4

This same God who became a man is now our High Priest. Did you notice in Hebrews 7:25 that not only does He live as our intercessor, but it is the reason why He lives. We are the reason He came to earth. We are the reason He died and we are the reason He rose again. He is obsessed with us! He loves us! His whole universe revolves around us. Does your universe revolve around Him?

And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Hebrews 3:5-6

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. Hebrews 3:14

Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 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. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 10:23-26

Time and time again Hebrews encourages us to hold fast our profession and confidence, that Jesus is the Messiah and will return. Hebrews 10:26 is not telling us there is no forgiveness if we willfully make a mistake. Hebrews is talking about the sin of unbelief. That is what the whole book is about, affirming our belief, profession and confidence that Jesus is the Messiah and will return. The point being made is that if after all the evidence we have that Jesus is the Messiah, if we choose not to believe, there will not be another Messiah come who will make a sacrifice for sin. Jesus is that Messiah. He died for us. He is interceding for us now and will return. Don’t lose hope! Don’t lose confidence! Don’t lose your profession! Encourage each other more and more that Jesus is our savior as the day approaches when He will return!

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Hebrews 9:28

Lesson12: Deuteronomy in the New Testament-Sabbath School Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath, December 18, 2021.

Main Theme: Deuteronomy was relevant in the New Testament. It is also relevant to us today.

Read together Matthew 4:1-11. Where does this passage refer to Deuteronomy? Hint: Vs. 4. and Deuteronomy 8:3.

Study: In verse 3 how did Satan try to make Jesus doubt God’s Word? Hint: Matthew 3:17. How did Jesus overcome these temptations? By His own power of by Scripture? Are the same resources available to Jesus available to us? See article, Every Word of God Proves True.

Apply: What passages from Deuteronomy or any of the Scriptures for that matter have you used to defeat Satan?

Share: A passenger in your car says she does not need to wear a seatbelt because she trusts in God. Which incident in this passage will help you answer your passenger?

Read Together Deuteronomy 10:17-19 and Acts 10:34. What is the common theme in these passages?

Study: What is the essential message here, and why is it relevant to God’s church today?

Apply: How do we make sure we are not partial or biased in our dealings with others, especially our own church family?

Share: A family member claims he would come back to church if the church was more involved in social issues and social rights. How do you respond to your friend?

Read Together Galatians 3:1-14. What reference is made to Deuteronomy? Hint: Deuteronomy 21:22-23.

Study: How does Deuteronomy help us understand what type of death Jesus died for us on the cross? For further study see the article The God-forsaken God.

Apply: Is our obedience motivated by a legalistic hope of reward, or is motivated by love?

Share: Your friend says since the law does not save us we should not keep it. How do you respond to your friend?

Read Together Deuteronomy 18:15-19 along with Acts 3:22 and Acts 7:37. What is the main idea of these passage?

Study: How do Peter and Stephen apply Deuteronomy 18:18?

Apply: In what ways might we be rejecting the words and testimony of Jesus today? How can we repent of that?

Share: Can you think of someone who might need to hear something that was said in class today? Can you find a way to share it with them this week?

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only...James 1:22.

Do we Need Anymore Inspired Reminders Today?

“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness,” Joel 2:28-31 NKJV

As I have been studying this week’s Sabbath School lesson on how the book of Deuteronomy is used throughout Scripture a few thoughts came to mind. 

  1. In Jeremiah 7:1-7 and Micah 6:1-8 Jeremiah and Micah seem to be borrowing from Deuteronomy and yet they are not referencing Moses or giving him credit. Of course back then people knew Scripture so well that it went without saying when Moses was being quoted. This was not considered plagiarism. Of course we know great portions of the New Testament quote, reference and borrow from the Old Testament. This leads me to my second thought.
  2.  In Acts 17:11 the people searched the Scriptures, obviously the Old Testament, to see if what Paul was preaching was true. Could it be that Paul and the other New Testament writers were the lesser lights in their day referencing or pointing to the greater light in the Old Testament? Were Jeremiah and Micah the lesser lights in their day pointing to the greater light in the books of Moses? If so, can one be a lesser light in his or her day but still be inspired by the same Holy Spirit who inspired Moses? This leads me to my third thought.
  3. If God raised up prophets like Jeremiah and Micah to remind people what was written in the books of Moses, could God raise up prophets in the last days to remind people of forgotten truths in Scripture? And if so…
  4. Then if the book of the law needed to be rediscovered in 2 Kings 22:1-20, what writings of inspiration may need to be rediscovered by the church of today? 

And now, your thoughts? 

PS for further study in the Bible on last day prophets click here.

11: Deuteronomy in the Later Writings-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath school class, Sabbath, December 11, 2021.

Main Theme: Thoughts from Deuteronomy are used throughout Scripture. Let’s see how they are used.

Read Together 2 Kings 22:1-20. What is happening here?

Study: What can we learn from this incident?

Apply: Are there portions of the law or Scripture that we need to be reminded of or simply start putting into practice?

Share: An older church member laments that some of the inspired writings of earlier days seems to be forgotten and needs to be rediscovered, much like the book of the law in Josiah’s time. Do you agree? Disagree? Why?

Read Together Deuteronomy 10:12-15. Identify the most important point in this passage.

Study: What does “heaven of heavens” mean? See also 1 Kings 8:27, Nehemiah 9:6, and Psalm 148:4.

Apply: What things in our lives today hinder us from serving God with all of our heart and strength?

Share: A class member notices that verse 15 says God only delighted in their fathers? Does that mean God only loved Israel?

Read Together Micah 6:1-8. What is the main idea of this passage?

Study: Exactly what case are the people to plead? What is the controversy God is having with His people?

Apply: How does obeying God and accomplishing our purpose all boil down to “doing justly, love mercy and walking humbly with God?”

Share: A friend asks, “How can we do justly and love mercy at the same time? Don’t the two conflict each other?” How do you answer your friend?

Read Together Jeremiah 7:1-7 and Jeremiah 29:13. What phrases remind you of Deuteronomy?

Study: What is Jeremiah telling the people, and how does it relate to what was already written in Deuteronomy?

Apply: Israel received a similar message from both Moses and Jeremiah. What is your reaction when you receive similar messages from different people? For example when your mother says you need to exercise more and then you hear the same thing from your wife?

Share: A class member shares that Jeremiah had to remind God’s people of messages Moses already taught in Deuteronomy. She then references Joel 2:28-31, and says God may also use last day prophets to remind us what was already taught in the Bible. Do you agree or disagree? Why? Click here for ideas.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only...James 1:22.