"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Launching "Raising the Standard Series"... The Principle of Authority and Secrets from a Centurion on the Purpose of Power

Somewhere in the middle of reprinting the Prayer Secrets series by Michael Bradley, I began to be pulled in a different direction... I was both pressed to complete and conlude his powerful articles and move in a new direction. It wasn't until I bumped into a Carman song... Great God, that I felt moved by the Holy Spirit to begin. May the Christian flags continue to inspire us to stand firm, to fight the good fight of faith, and to overcome evil by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). Let us raise Christ's banner for the nations and proclaim the Lordship of Christ. So here we are... These first two articles are being reprinted in their entirety from Life Purpose, A Journal of God's Power in Us, Volume 1 (1990?). I'm about to take a journey and it is my hope that you will travel alone with me as I explore, Raising the Standards a study of godly principles, character, and the Prophets in the scripture who embodied them. Blessings, The Albatross
"We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the Name of our Lord" ~ Psalm 20:5
"And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." ~ Colossians 2:15
The Principle of Authority: There are five basic concepts which make up the principle of authority:
1. All Power Comes From God. This means that whatever authority has is given to him by God. When Pilate said to Jesus,
"...Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release the? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above..." ~ John 19:10-11
Paul confirmed this truth in Romans 13:
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation" ~ Romans 13:1-2
2. God Designed a Balance of Power. There are four authority structures in each of our lives: parents, church leaders, government officials, and employers. Each authority is to be accountable to other authorities so that if power is abused there can be interaction between authorities. The purpose of this balance is to avoid having one authority assume more jurisdiction than God intended and also to establish a check-and-balance system. 3. There Are Two Purposes for Power. Every human authority is responsible under God to punish those who do evil and praise those who do well. This is clearly stated in Romans 13:3-5 and also 1 Peter 2:13-14:
"For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake." ~ Romans 13:3-5
"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well" ~ 1 Peter 2:13-14
4. All Should Be Under Authority. Each one of us must be subject to various authorities even if we ourselves are in a position of authority. For example, a political leader should be under the authority of his church and under the counsel of his parents. Peter stresses this point:
"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject to one another and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." ~ 1 Peter 5:5
5. Abuse of Power Must Be Appealed. God knows that there will be many situations in which those who are under authority will need to make appeals. When a human authority fails in his duty, goes beyond his jurisdiction, or commands evil to be done, those under his authority must appeal.
The first step in an effective appeal is to make sure that we have the proper attitudes. Next, we must appeal to the authority on the basis of his Scriptural responsibilities.
If the authority does not respond, then the appeal should be made to a higher authority. The ultimate appeal should be made to God, Who will judge all men accourding to His own righteousness. In no case however, should we ever do evil. If a husband or father abuses his authority, the wife and children should appeal, they should appeal to his father, who is Scripturally responsible to give him counsel:
"Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old." ~ Proverbs 23:22
If he still refuses to change, those under his authority should carry the appeal to the church leaders, or to civil authorities if he has violated a law.
Secrets From a Centurion on The Purpose of Power: It was the centurion who Jesus praised for his understanding of the chain-of-command.
"When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel" ~ Luke 7:9
The centuron had asked Jesus to heal his servant; however, while Jesus was on the way to heal the servant, the centurion sent a messenger who said:
"...Lord, trouble not theyself... Say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and say I unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it" ~ Luke 7:6-8
The centuron lived under a chain-of-command. At the top of the chain was the emperor, under him the general, and under him various ranks of officers. If the general wanted something done, he would simply issue a command. Power and resources were given with the command in order to carry it out. After asking Jesus to heal his servant, the centurion suddenly realized that God's Kingdom was also structured in a "chain-of-command." It was on this basis that he told Jesus to speak only the word and his servant would be healed.
The Greek word for "submit" in the New Testament is an old military term which means "to line up under." This word is in the middle voice, which means that the submitting must be done voluntarily.
However, once a person volunteers to enter into an authority structure, such as an army or marriage, there are continuing responsibilities that must be carried out. In addition to the centurion's comprehension of the chain-of-command, there are three other vital insights that he reveals about authority in this passage:
1. An authority's first concern must be the welfare of those under him.
The account of the centurion begins not with his awareness of power, but with his love for and commitment to those under his authority. "And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die." The deep concern which the centurion had for the welfare of his servant is reflected in the intensity of his appeal to Jesus to heal him, "And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant." The elders whom he sent further confirmed the centurion's concern for those under his authority. They urged Jesus to respond to the request, "saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue" (Luke 7:2-5). When one in authority is primarily concerned for those under his care, it is easy for them to submit to him. Christ demonstrated this kind of authority when He laid down His life for the Church. Scripture commands husbands to have a similar commitment to their wives, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25).
2. An authority's awareness of power must be an afterthought.
It was not until Jesus had agreed to come to the centurion's home that the centurion thought about his power. When a person in authority is primarily concerned about having other people recognize his position and respect his power, he is out of balance. Scripture goes so far as to say that if a person thinks that he is "somebody," he is deceiving himself, and the very thought proves that he is "nobody."
"If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." ~ Galatians 6:13
3. An authority must view himself as being under authority.
The centurion did not say that he was a man in authority, but rather, "...I am a man under authority..." (Matthew 8:9). This recognition carries with it a sense of accountability to God for the use of his power and genuine humility toward others. This humility was reflected by the centurion's statement to Jesus, "...Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof...For I am a mean under authority..." (Matthew 8:8-9). A father is responsible to teach his children obedience. But if he makes the demand, "you obey me because I am your father," he fails to understand the true meaning of authority. If, on the other hand, he firmly but humbly states, "I am asking you to obey me because I am under God's authority, and I must answer to Him for the way I have trained you," he is a wise father and understands the purpose of authority.