This week I am using last Sunday morning’s sermon on Godly Authority as a basis for this blog. Lots of people really struggle with authority. The level of trust in the US about its government has dramatically decreased over this last 50 years. In 1964 it was at 77%. This had fallen to 19% in 2015. Is this huge reduction in the levels of trust only because of the increase in media scrutiny and revelations about the US government? Or is it evidence of something more fundamental? Does it only apply to the US, or does it also apply here in the UK? I think it also applies here and speaks about a loss of confidence in human authorities.
One of the best pictures of the authority of God is in Daniel 7. In the passage God’s total Authority and Sovereignty are fully in view. Daniel presents an amazing picture of the glory, majesty and power of God in verses 9-10. He exercises His authority in absolute terms. The whole of heaven are at His beck and call. When He speaks – everyone listens, when He sits in judgement – no one can refuse to stand before Him. He is God Almighty.
Let’s think a little more about the nature of the world’s authority
Many years ago, people largely obeyed authority. In the time of our great grandparents and grandparents – to the end of the 1950’s, authority was not questioned to the extent it is now. Today, a lot of people will only follow the authority that they agree with.
We also live in an age when respect has to be earned. It may sound amazing, but respect used to be freely given to those in authority. Unconditional respect for authority was seen as a primary building block of a well-order society.
I think godly authority is very different from the world’s idea of authority. The world’s is based in the imposition of Laws, in rulers imposing their will on other people, in those who own a company or organisation, or who are placed in a position of power. That word power is often associated with worldly authority – the power to act and do.
Godly authority is very different. It is based in God as Creator – Lord and Sovereign over all that He has created – is enacted in accordance to His nature and being – and finds its fulfilment or completeness in Christ.
God’s Authority is Invested in the Son
In the NT, exousia is the Greek word translated, according to context as either power, but most often as authority. It is the right or privilege to act over others, in government – in terms of God, He exercises His authority through Christ. All authority has been given to the Son. He acts from a place of moral perfection; in other words, always with purity doing so according to the counsel of God’s perfect will.
How many of us worry, fret, are anxious, feel troubled, are afraid because we do not know the authority and power of our God – the Ancient of Days? He is the Shepherd of His people who loves us much more than we can imagine in Christ.
God is Almighty – He commits all judgement, and the authority to judge humankind, to the Son. Acts 10:42-43, ‘And Jesus ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that He is the One appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. 43He is the One all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His name.”
Jesus has the authority to be the Judge of all. ‘The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son’ (John 5:22). ‘But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats’ (Matthew 25:31-32).
Jesus is God’s appointed judge with the authority to make all appear before Him.
If we are in Him, we have eternal life and the commendation of the Father
If a person in not found written in the Book of Life – not in a full relationship with Christ, Jesus will condemn and separate that person sending him or her away as guilty of rejecting Himself – sent to Hell for eternity. There is God’s Heaven to be gained so we spend eternity in full and open relationship with Him in His presence, and Hell to be avoided at all costs – the Hell He created for Satan and the fallen angels, and for all who reject Christ. Jesus has all authority.
Matthews 28:18-20, ‘Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”’
Daniel 7:9-10, ‘I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His clothing was as white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; and a river of fire was pouring out, flowing from His presence. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood to attend before Him. The court began its session, and the books were opened.’
And verses 13-14, ‘I saw someone like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One or the Ancient of Days, and was led into His presence. 14He was given authority, honour, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey Him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.’
Jesus’ Kingdom Authority
Remember, Jesus has all authority.
In Daniel 7:13-14, four things are evident:
- Daniel prophesies Jesus’ ascension back to the Father after the completion of His work on earth. 10 days later He would ask the Father to pour out the Holy Spirit on His praying church – the Day of Pentecost
- Upon His arrival back in heaven – at God’s right hand – Jesus is led to the place of honour and there sat down alongside His Father. He left to go on the epic journey, His Incarnation, the eternal Son of God – He returned as the wounded, risen, ascended and glorified God-Man
- What Jesus accomplished in the Incarnation means that there will be believers in heaven from every nation and people group on earth
- His Kingdom is eternal, and can never be defeated – His Church will continue the mission Jesus started till His Second Coming.
How can I live under Christ’s authority as a disciple today?
I want to suggest 7 criteria which I believe are important:
- Biblically consistent – the best place to find out how to develop our faith, our trust in God, and to walk under Christ’s authority is in the Bible. We need to feed on the word discovering the breadth and truth of God’s word, then seek to apply its truth under the guidance of the Spirit, and with the counsel of other mature believers. Last Friday night, 9th October, Isaac and I looked at ‘How to Read the Bible’ in the Live Discipleship on our YouTube channel and Facebook page. Go and watch it as we spoke about the Bible, its authority, how to read it, and the importance of reading it.
- Honouring to Christ – it is wise to pray to live a life that honours and recognises the authority of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This equips us to live in such a way that we bring Christ honour and glory, and are able to fulfil God’s purposes through Him.
As we grow in understanding building our levels of trust in Him, and bringing the Lord Jesus to the fore through our church and our lives, the world will see Him at work in us – the presence, power and authority of God’s Spirit at work in and through us. The Spirit loves to glorify Jesus – and if that is what we are seeking to do, He will help us to do so in amazing ways.
- The Spirit’s fullness inspires us, guides us, anoints us so we follow the ancient way engaging with the world on God’s terms – not on the world’s terms.
God’s terms mean we can trust in Christ, and trust Him submitting totally to His authority, engaging fearlessly with the world preaching the Gospel, living out our faith, and worshipping and serving as Christ’s servants and followers
- Pray daily to apply the Law of Love – this is the way to speak to and engage with the world on God’s terms. When we are confronted with things that trouble us – don’t speak out of bitterness, narrow-mindedness, and hate for others. Instead, submit to Christ’s authority and allow righteous anger to arise enabling us to engage through biblically shaped thinking and actions, and filled with His love.
- We must move to a place where we are able to maintain our relationship with our brothers and sisters. This can be a difficult and hard part of coming under the authority of Christ in church. Some will let us down, some will seem untrustworthy, but remember – we are called to not forsake our fellowship with each other and submit to one another in love.
- As we deal with issues within and without which cause us to withdraw from church – we can trust our God to lead us along the Ancient Way to a new place of confidence, peace and rest.
Even in the spiritual battle, in our relationships, in our commitment to church, accountability to one another in love, engagement with world and its media and philosophies on God’s terms, and in our witness to the world – Christ will be with us till the end of our lives.
- We need to marry godly wisdom and a whole-hearted commitment to God’s mission to the world, through Christ, to make disciples of every nation. We do so in order to encourage and assist more people to live lives that truly reflect our biblical Christianity. Remember, Jesus did not entrust Himself to the people because He knew what was in their hearts; yet he still ministered His truth, and saving and healing grace in power, love and with godly authority.
- Only by saying sorry to God, repenting, believing in Jesus and calling on Him for salvation is there eternal life.
- Does Jesus know you today as one of His own? Is He Your Saviour? If not – heed His voice and stop walking away from Him. Turn to Him in repentance, recognise His divine authority and call on Him for salvation believing that He is, and a rewarder of everyone who calls upon His name.
- Christ has all authority, and He authorises us to go and make disciples. Matthews 28:18-20, ‘Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”’
- This is Jesus’ own response to His absolute authority – you are authorised by Me to go and make disciples.
- Not, ‘you all just spend your lives on your knees worshipping Me.’ No! You make disciples.
- What am I doing today to make disciples? Our aim is to make disciples who make disciples.
- We are to go and make disciples
- We are to baptise them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
- We are to teach them Christ’s words and how to obey Him and His words by word and example
- And wonderfully, He is committed to being with us till He returns
Father, fill us with Your Spirit so we can truly live under authority to Christ and thus enter the place of true freedom such submission brings. As others see us living this way – anoint us to make many disciple making disciples. In Jesus’ name. Amen