Unity in Obeying Authority
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ’All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’” – Matthew 28:18
Good morning! I realize now that, with the busy nature of life, some of you are probably as tired and exhausted as I am. Thank you for taking the time and effort to read and share in my journey. You are so very kind to do so. After all, this journey of life is not about me or you. It’s about Christ and exalting His name above all others and taking His gospel message to a lost and dying world. As always, I appreciate you!
Much love and many thanks.
I want to talk about authority as we continue to venture through the book of Acts. I think it’s very important as we talk about restoring New Testament Christianity. So, of course it fits well right where we are. If we want to know what we are supposed to do to live in the will of God, we have to have authority for doing it.
No one just walks up to a car dealership’s lot, grabs keys, and drives away without paying for the vehicle. No one has the authority to do that. No person has the authority, either, to violate another person’s home or personal belongings. Even law enforcement officers do not have the authority to do certain things, like shoot or kill unarmed citizens because they look a certain way.
Of course people still do those things(and others), even though they don’t have the authority to do it. I think you get the idea about authority.
The Greek word for authority is exousia. According to Strong’s lexicon, it means, “power, the right to control or govern, dominion, the area or sphere of jurisdiction, human or supernatural power” (Strong).
Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). Using our definition above, that means that all power has been given to Christ. It means that all the right to control and all the right to govern has been given to Christ. It also means that all areas and spheres of jurisdiction have been given to Christ. And all human and supernatural power has been given to Christ.
In essence, Christ has all power to do and command anything and everything that He wants, everywhere, to all people.
So when it comes to religious matters and matters of life, we must turn to Jesus to see what He says about it. And it’s His Word – His will and testament that gives us the right – the authority – to do anything.
I want to make sure there is no confusion that I am all about unity of believers. I truly desire for us all to be one – for us all to be united, and for us all to be and do what Christ wants. It’s not my goal to exclude anyone. It’s the Word that will exclude us all from heaven if we do not do what it says.
“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” – John 12:48
It’s my goal to make sure that as many people are not excluded from salvation as is possible. That’s why I preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Being a Christian is exclusive, anyway. As my dear friend says it: Christianity is exclusive of Hinduism. Christianity is exclusive of hedonism. It’s exclusive of Buddhism. Being a Christian also excludes one from being a Muslim. Being a man and not deity excludes you from being Christ.
Living a life that is right before God excludes the Christian from living a life of sin. When the Lord added to the church those who were being saved on the day of Pentecost, those who were not being saved were excluded from being added to the church (Acts 2:47).
Exclusions, naturally, apply when you are a Christian.
And because Christ has all authority, that excludes anyone else from having authority to tell us how we are to worship, how His church should be organized, or how we are to live our lives.
In all matters we are to seek Christ and what His word says about the matter. It’s not what I say that will judge anyone in the last day. It’s not what you say that will judge anyone in the last day. And it’s not what any man on this earth says that will judge anyone in the last day.
Christ’s words will judge us (John 12:48). So it’s imperative that we know and do exactly what He says. If any man – whether he be a preacher, pastor, priest, or homeless person on the street – teaches you to do something or live in a way that is not authorized by the Bible, he is wrong. He does not have the authority to do so, because Jesus Christ has all authority. So we absolutely must adhere to his Word.
In the Digging Deep study that I’m working on, there are four important tests that are laid out as to how we can determine if we have authority for doing or participating in an activity. They are¹:
- Is there a command to do it that’s for all people? (If so, I must do it!)
- Is it necessary for me to do it in order to keep a commandment? (If so, I must do it!)
- Is it an activity/tool used to accomplish the exact command God has given? (If so, I have permission/authority to do it/use it in the accomplishment of that command.)
- Did someone do it in the New Testament with the favor or approval of God in the keeping of a command? (If so, I have permission/authority to do it, if it is still available to me.)
We can use the outline above to check to see if what we are doing spiritually or religiously is authorized by Jesus. We can’t just wake up one day and say that in a dream God told us something or we felt something in our heart that led us to worship God one way or live in a way that’s not authorized by the New Testament.
Our hearts are not a measuring guide to how we are to govern ourselves. Christ has all power and all the right to govern, so we must follow Him and His teachings.
“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:17
The verse above from Colossians 3 says to do everything in the name of the Lord. Now that doesn’t mean walk around all day saying, in the name of the Lord Jesus I: turn on the computer or drive this car or get gas or whatever other thing you do throughout your day. That wouldn’t make sense.
Doing things in the name of the Lord Jesus means doing them by the authority of Christ.
Recall Noah. The Bible says that “Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him” when He told him to build an ark (Gen. 7:6). Remember God told Noah to use gopher wood, to put one window and one door in the ark, and to cover the ark with pitch (tar) on the inside and outside.
Can you imagine if Noah had done any of those things differently than what God commanded? What if he didn’t cover the ark with tar inside and out? Do you think water may have been able to seep through?
Noah didn’t compromise on God’s commandments. He did everything as was authorized by God. God didn’t tell him what kind of tools to use, but it was implied that he would have to have something to cut the wood, to lay the pitch, and to hold everything together. So he absolutely employed the use of tools to carry out God’s commands.
Also recall Nadab and Abihu from Leviticus 10:
“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Leviticus 10:1-2).
Notice Exodus 30:9, “You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.” God had already made it known how He wanted to be worshiped – what He authorized. And Nadab and Abihu did not follow His commands. So they died.
“And Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord spoke, saying: “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.” ’ So Aaron held his peace.” – Leviticus 10:3
Aaron was aware of the commandments God had given him and His people. So he couldn’t even say anything about it or complain when his sons did wrong and did not follow God’s commands and died as a result. That’s why he held his peace.
God is serious about worship. He’s serious about His commands. And His commands are not grievous or a burden (1 John 5:3). That’s why it’s so important that we get it right.
None of us wants to be the one standing before the Lord and say “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” just to have the Lord say “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:22, 23).
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven“ (Matt. 7:21). So knowing that, I just want to make sure that I’m doing His will and that as many people as I can help are too.
I don’t want us to be divided. I want for there to be unity among all believers. I want us to be one in Christ – speaking and doing the same things. I want us to worship God the way that He has authorized. I want that. And I want it because that’s what God wants for us.
We have to have authority from the Lord in order to know how to conduct ourselves and how to get to heaven. He’s told us how to do that. We must believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 8:24). We must repent of our sins (Luke 13:3). We must confess that He is Lord (Matt. 10:32-33). We must be baptized (Mark 16:16). And we must faithfully do His will (Matt. 7:21).
Then we can have our sins washed away. Sin is what makes a person ugly; it pollutes the soul. Me, I’m beautiful in the eyes of the Lord because when He sees me, He sees the blood of His Son Jesus that has made my soul garments as white as the snow. You can be beautiful, too. If you haven’t obeyed the gospel call, then you are but filthy rags before the Lord (Isa. 64:6).
Do you have authority from Christ – from His Word – for how you have been worshipping God and living your life? Let’s do what Christ wants us to do. He has all authority.
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¹Colley, Cindy. Authority: A Digging Deep Study, 2019.
Strong’s Strongest Concordance