K.P. Yohannan is the founder and president of Gospel for Asia, a non-profit ministry dedicated to bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to several south Asian countries. The organization’s headquarters is based out of Carrollton, Texas.
Born and raised in India, Yohannan joined an evangelical Christian mission organization called Operation Mobilization; a group dedicated to sharing the love of God and the freedom of Christ with numerous countries around the world. Receiving his education in the U.S. at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas, Yohannan soon became a pastor. Drawing upon his missionary experience in Operation Mobilization, he would eventually sense the Lord’s calling to begin his own global outreach organization for Christ. Since then, Yohannan has authored over 200 books, yes, 200! One of his most recent works is titled, “Touching Godliness: Experience Freedom through Submission,” what I will share with you here.
As the title suggests, this is not a book written to assuage the average 21st century mind. It is no secret that Western society has, since the time of the Enlightenment, written off the word “submission” as a thing of the “primitive” past that binds and constrains people from fulfilling their ultimate self-driven destinies. Indeed, common is the charge that to submit to something necessarily means to be “weak” or “inferior” to the object of submission.
K.P. Yohannan’s purpose in writing this book is to identify how the understanding of biblical submission is largely lost in the Church and especially the world today. Whether in the church, home, business, or government, he argues that without a proper understanding and employment of a submissive life, people, especially Christians, will end up with lifestyles where pain, selfishness and chaos ultimately rule them.
In his chapter titled “The Benefits of Submission,” he draws on numerous stories from the Old and New Testaments to illustrate how the word “submission” is intrinsically linked to two other words, “brokenness” and “humility.” Indeed, for the Christian, submission starts with brokenness, and brokenness starts at the cross of Christ.
He reminds us of David who submitted to the authority of King Saul, even when Saul sought to kill him; of Joseph who faithfully submitted to the temporal Egyptian authorities God allowed to reign for a time over his life; of St. Paul, who submitted and urged his fellow Christian churches to submit to the secular authorities as agents of God on earth. Most importantly, Yohannan reminds us to look to Christ Jesus, who humbly submitted to the will of the Father by emptying himself for the salvation of humanity.
Submitting to Authority
To submit then, necessarily requires that we yield to a higher God-given authority even when it goes against our wishes. Yohannan notes that though the mystery of godly submission may be difficult to understand, “we are to submit to authority whether it is to a believer or unbeliever, someone good or bad. The appointed authority may be immoral, harsh, incompetent, even godless. The ability, character or qualifications of the authority have little to do with our submission” (page 41).
Since rebellion and non-submission to God’s will for his creation is what ultimately caused the first human sin, it is natural for humans to fight against submitting.
Indeed, Lucifer himself fell greatly from Heaven when he decided not to submit to the Almighty, choosing instead a path of disobedience, and he took many of the angels with him. Similar rebellion occurs in human affairs all of the time, and it often starts with one person who has decided in his heart that he knows better than those in authoritative positions over him.
Body of Christ
Yohannan cites multiple examples from his own ministry where a lack of submission to the governing pastors in churches caused a great schism in the church body, which ultimately caused much harm that could otherwise have been avoided.
There are times however, when those in positions of authority act in direct defiance to the mandates of Scripture, and Yohannan talks about this in detail in his last chapter titled, “When Our Authorities Go Wrong.” He notes that sometimes it is actually good and right to go against what an authority teaches if it is contrary to Christ and the Scriptures. Even in such a case though the problem should be resolved in as quiet, sympathetic and humble a spirit as possible.
Submission, rather than being a negative term, when seen through the eyes of God’s well-ordered and politically appointed world, is necessary for a good and prospering society. Given the ever-increasing individualistic world we live in, I encourage any Christian who is curious or even skeptical about biblical authority to read this book. There is much to learn from its pages.