My brother was in 1st grade when I was in 8th grade. It was the only year we were in school together. One lunch recess, I had checked out a basketball and was shooting baskets alone. My first grade brother and a friend asked if they could shoot with me. We began to play together. I taught them how to dribble and shoot. One of them shot and the ball bounced off the rim of the basket. Being bigger, I jumped up and snagged the ball.
Before I could do anything else, a teacher, who at that moment happened on the scene, misunderstood. He called me over and took the ball away. He thought I was bullying the younger boys. He would not listen to my explanation and sent me to my classroom.
I obeyed his authority, but was furious at the misuse, knowing he had punished me unjustly.
There were two phrases that I learned about authority as I was growing up: “Because I said so!” and “Don’t do as I do! Do as I say!”
My parents taught me to respect certain people, i.e. all my elders and all those in positions of authority. The previous incident and others revealed to me that authority was not always right.
This was reinforced when, at the end of the year, the 8th Grade was about to graduate into high school. The Lion’s Club awarded a certificate and a cash award to the boy and girl who were the tops in their grade school performance. I was academically superior to the other boys in my class. I knew I was going on to college, but none of the others cared. I had been Lieutenant for the first two years of School Boy Patrol and Captain the last year. Despite my credentials, they awarded the certificate and the cash to the son of the County Sheriff.
One of the many mantras of the youth of the Vietnam era was “Question Authority”. They swung the pendulum the other way. “The Man”, i.e. those in power, were in power because of influence peddling . Because they held their authority unjustly, they were obviously wrong. You could never trust anyone in authority.
So we are faced with the dilemma. Will we respect authority, or will we rebel against it? Generally, the bulk of the people in those years submitted to authority. The few “Flower Children” established anti-authority life styles. They rejected all morality handed down by the previous generation. “Never trust anyone over 30”, was another cry of the period. So they broke the previous taboos and established a “New Morality” (which is not new at all but the old, old immorality warmed over). Some of the results are seen in the damage that society has experienced, some of which are:
Many factors have contributed to these and other societal ills; however, lack of respect for authority is common to all of them.
What Is Good Authority?
Good authority looks out for the people’s welfare. There are numerous needs and wants in any group of people. Our society is a complexity of individual concerns. Therefore, if one is to be a leader in America, one has the difficult task of making decisions that will do the most good and harm individuals the least.
Authority comes with responsibility. To be competent in any position of authority requires a wide horizon. One must look both broadly and deeply.
Leaders must perceive what is the scope of their authority. Each must determine what he can do, what he must do and what he must not do. Many of the alternatives presented to a leader will enhance the lives of the people. A leader must consider them broadly as a whole.
A leader must look deeply. She or he must consider the desires of the majority in contrast with what is lawful, what is best for the future and what effect it will have on the minority. He or she must have vision to look ahead, evaluate future consequences of his decisions and actions.
There is a difference between a politician and a statesman. A politician finds personal gratification in the wielding his legitimate authority. He begins focusing on keeping his seat of power, rather than making decisions that are best for their constituents. He begins to feather his nests by coddling up to the big money interests, promoting the latter’s issues in opposition to those of people in general.
A Statesman, however, is a person of integrity. He or she ever looks out for the welfare of the people and the nation; has the integrity to stand for what is right against what is popular. She or he is willingly sacrifice the position for the general good of all. Since he is not married to power, he cannot be bought.
A statesman has integrity of a moral foundation. He recognizes the reality of a “public trust” handed him. He has been placed in office not to gratify his desires, but to represent the interests of the public. The people elect office holders on the basis of citizens’ approval of their platforms. They have believed that he or she will follow through on the policy stances declared in election publications and speeches. If the needs of the moment dictate a change, a statesman publically acknowledges his change and his reason for the change.
Those who are appointed to their positions, while not directly accountable to the citizens, essentially have two bosses: the one who appointed them and the public good. In all cases faithfulness to the greater good will dictate that when the directions of their immediate superior are counter to the public good, she will openly declare for the public good at the risk of losing her position. He will never allow superior authority to stifle moral irresponsibility.
Unhappily, human nature is not reliable. People do say one thing and intend another. Statesmen, whether elected or appointed, are few and far between. In fact, people desire to be in positions of authority and have the power that such a position gives. That desire makes them eager to garner support and to keep it. Their personal goals influence their thoughts and words. “Political Promises” are notoriously short lived and broken as soon as victory is declared.
Such people pander to deep pockets, seeking to please donors and encourage their money for the next election. Politicians’ offices are open to all comers, except they are especially open to people of money or influence, because these can move politicians up in their desires for more authority.
Knowing the vagaries of human nature, the Framers of our Constitution, who were Statesmen, sought to build into our Constitution safeguards to thwart attempts to garner too much authority in the Government. They were convinced that the will of the people could counter the individual lust for power inherent in authority. Thus, they attempted to frame the government to be subservient to the people. They split the authority of the Government into three bodies to check the increasing lust for power of any one branch.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had strong ideas on how to use the Federal Government to combat The Great Depression. When he tried to put several in place, the Supreme Court declared them an unconstitutional breech of the authority of the Executive. Frustrated, the President proposed “The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937”, giving him the authority to appoint up to six additional Justices. It was labeled an attempt to “pack the Court” with Justices favorable to the President’s programs. The Framers’ checks and balances worked in the Senate, which held the proposal without a vote until it died.
Our U.S. Constitution begins with “We the People”, and after enumerating the functions of the Federal Government, the preamble states “do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States.” This puts the delegation of authority in the hands of the People. It is the citizens of our nation that grant authority to the President to function, to the Congress to deliberate and the Supreme Court to adjudicate.
I fear the burgeoning of the Federal Government. The truth that no one owes individuals a living has obscured this truth. Uncounted federal programs have swamped it. They have communicated, and a growing number of people believe, that the Federal Government owes them a living.
The more we expect the Government to provide for us the greater the degree of authority we surrender to those in power. People begin to fear that if they do not elect politicians who will grant them more of the Federal dole, no one will take care of them.
In order to secure votes to remain in office, politicians vote for extending and expanding the social benefits to more people. They no longer have concern for the financial well-being of the nation. They have taken on the mentality of a century ago: “The resources of the United States are unlimited.” Back then, the forests went on forever! We could never fish out the New England Grand Banks! In the last half century, we have discovered that both are limited resources. Our current crop of politicians chooses not to recognize that the financial resources of the nation are in fact limited. They misuse their authority for short term advantage. They keep using their authority to “kick the can down the road”. As long as the day of reckoning does not come during their political career, they consider themselves immune to the consequences.
Almighty and Omnipotent God makes it clear to all who will hear:
“And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)
All is all-inclusive. Heaven and earth encompass all spheres of influence. All authority includes every sentient being in existence.
Jesus, the eternal God, received from the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (essentially Himself) all authority. He on earth was the repository of the authority of Almighty God. He exercised authority to some extent in ministry—healing the sick, cleansing lepers, raising the dead, and in minor physical miracles, changing water into wine, multiplying loaves and fish and walking on the water.
However great the manifestation of his authority was, Jesus gave it away; initially to His Disciples.
“And he called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.” (Luke 9:1).
His disciples used it greatly to heal and to cast out demons. They were amazed at the power Jesus’ authority gave them.
Yet his gift of authority was not limited to the “Elite Disciples”. Jesus was profligate with His gift of Authority.
“I manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them to me; and they have kept thy word. Now they know that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are from thee: for the words which thou gavest me I have given unto them; and they received them, and knew of a truth that I came forth from thee, and they believed that thou didst send me.” (John 17:6-8)
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask [anything in my name, that will I do. ” (John 14:12-14)
Jesus has passed the mantle of His authority onto believers. He desires that we act with integrity, properly representing Him to the world. He desires for us to manifest Him through our acts to benefit others. We benefit others by:
Too many of God’s people do not know the authority He has given. Others do not understand the scope of Christ’s authority in them. Still others do not believe they can exercise His power. They believe the Scriptures, but they do not apply them to their own lives.
“Verily I say unto you, What things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what things soever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18-19)
The authority to bind and loose is the power of God to make things happen and to prevent things from happening. Jesus could bind or quiet the storm. He could loose the Gadarene Demoniac from his demonic bondage. That power every believer CAN exercise. What is my authority to affirm this?
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17)
My authority is that we are privileged. We are called to be the sons and daughters of God. Since we are His children we have His authority to do whatever He will approve of our doing.
The second reality that proves that we can exercise Christ’s authority is that we are “Joint Heirs” with the Son of God. Everyone named in a deceased one’s will has a declared share in the estate. A joint heir has an equal share with all others. Therefore, our authority is equal to the authority of Christ.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13 KJV)
Hezekiah prayed and the attack of Sennacherib king of Assyria was thwarted (2 Kings 19:15-37) I do not believe it is a reach to state that The Jerusalem Christians prayed about and for Saul the Persecutor. Christ transformed Him from the foremost persecutor of believers into the foremost promoter of Christ.
It is time in America’s history that Believers exercise their authority in Christ to call for a Nationwide conversion to faith in Christ. God founded our nation to proclaim God’s truth to the nations. We, because of our riches, have lost sight of that mission. Only an outpouring of the holy Spirit as in the Great Awakening of the 1740’s and the Second Great Awakening of the 1850’s will restore America.
You and I, brothers and sisters, are a part of the next restoration under the authority of Christ. Consecrate yourself to petition Our Almighty Father to turn our nation from destruction back to His righteous path and to pour out again His torrential blessings on our nation.
ANSWER: God has not changed. He still has the power to manifest miracles in the world today. His promise to believers is that they will do even greater works than Jesus did when He was in the flesh.
What is different is the faith of believers. At the beginning of the Church, people saw the Apostles exercising the Authority of Christ, working miracles. Their lives required much greater dependence upon God for food and for healing.
Over the centuries, Christians lost the fervor of our first love. They depended more on Scripture, and then on the church, and then upon science, and then upon our prosperity, than they did on Christ Jesus.
Today in our culture, we feel we do not need Jesus. We are self-sufficient and so we bypass the grace of God. “I tried everything, but nothing worked, so I had to pray.” “Oh, dear, you are in desperate straits!” In more needy cultures, the miracles occur far more frequently. This is because finding the power of Christ they exercise it to meet their need. They depend upon their Father far more than American believers do.
For us to receive the inheritance of the saints we must recognize our need and seek the provision of our God before we call upon our resources. Can we trust God enough to place our lives and well-being in His hands, instead of those of a doctor? Can we trust God to provide for our family if we lose our jobs? Can we trust God enough to pray consistently and continually until we experience God’s answer?
Father, the most majestic phenomenon in our sight are the stars, and yet they seem so insignificant. They are just points of light. Science tells us that in reality they are even greater than our sun. There are so many stars in our view, but they are a minute fraction of the numbers of stars You have created.
This teaches us, if we will pay attention to You and learn, that there is vastly more to creation than we can know. Further, because you created the stars by finger play, they testify to the magnitude of Your Omnipotence. They testify to Your love of beauty and variety. They speak of Your love of creating.
My God, You are magnificent beyond our imagining. All we have comes from you. What a fantastic contrast it is between Your magnificence and Your providing all we need. You, the King of Creation, stoop to mankind, and not only to the whole of us, but to me alone to offer Your marvelous gifts.
Creator of the universe, You have not only become my Savior, but my Master. Not only my Master, but my Friend. Not only My Friend, but my Father.
You have opened my life from temporal striving after wind unto an endless delight in Your presence in my life. You, the Omnipotent Creator of all, have entered into my life and given me the promise of Your Presence for eternity. You are maturing me from glory to glory, filling me with your fantastic gifts. You, the Lord of the Universe, trust to me the message of salvation for all mankind. Though I handle it crudely and make a fool of myself, still You do not lose Your pleasure in me.
What a joy to know You, My loving, beautiful Father. I acknowledge You as my Sovereign.
Glory, all glory Majesty, dominion Honor and praise to You Lord God Almighty