The concept of authority is absolutely critical in understanding the message of Jesus Christ as explained to us in the Scriptures. The message of the Gospel rests on the fundamental principle that Christ has all authority and that we must submit to Him.
Unfortunately, the concept of authority in this world, especially in the United States, is not properly understood. We have been raised imbued with the democratic ideal: the authority rests in the people. The people elect their leader who does what they deem fit. While this ideal is rarely realized, Americans have surely accepted it as fact, even taking this form of attitude to spiritual matters.
Further, modern philosophies also undermine authority by attempting to relativize all belief systems. In modern viewpoints, there is no one right way, but multiple paths to the same end. “My” viewpoint is no better or worse than “your” viewpoint, and “your” god is no more or less valid or invalid than “my” god. It is no wonder that the concept of authority as explained in the Scriptures is not understood in these times!
We must not let these modern philosophies divert us from the truth of the Gospel of our Lord. Let us examine the Scriptures to see what we may learn about authority:
- Christ has authority. We read in Matthew 28:18:
And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.”
If all authority has been given to Christ, how much authority has been left to us, especially in religious matters? Absolutely none.
- Since Christ has authority, we must give obeisance to Him. Paul says the following in Philippians 2:9-11:
Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
There is no room to exult or proclaim any other than Jesus Christ, and all will have to at some point give praise to Him.
- Since we are under Christ’s authority, we must be subject to Christ. Ephesians 5:24:
But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything.
If we are of Christ, we are a part of His Church (Ephesians 1:23, 1 Corinthians 12), and therefore we must be subject to Christ.
- If we are truly Christ’s, we must do all things we do by His authority. Colossians 3:17:
And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
“In the name of the Lord Jesus” is recognized as meaning that we must do all things by the authority of Christ, and such deeds are found in His Word.
It ought to be evident to every Christian that his life must be conformed to the will of Christ Jesus since He has been given all authority. There is no room for man to assert any “right” that he may believe he has to add to or take away from the words of our Lord Jesus; if He has all authority, that means that we have no authority in and of ourselves. If we desire to be saved and to live in Heaven with Him, we must fully submit to His authority and live by His precepts. There is no other way.