“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17
(all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“ But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)
Article. I, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution reads, “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” The final lines of Article 1, Sect 8. says that the only power that Congress has to exercise is “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”
Believe it or not, there are many laws on the books that suggest that Congress never read, nor did the Federal Judiciary, those limits of authority provided in the U.S. Constitution. That instrument (the US Constitution) embodies the full extent of governmental authority in America, and it, not the Supreme Court of the United States, is the Supreme Law of the Land. One would find it quite futile to discover any authority whatsoever in the American Constitution that forbids the Ten Commandments being posted on public property, prayer in school, or allowing innocents to be murdered while still in their mother’s womb. The First Amendment provides just the opposite so far as the expression of religious values is concerned. The Church was not to be controlled by government, nor a pawn of the government; but certainly, the Founders expected that the moral teachings of the Bible would inform government and her leaders.
Now, Christian believers, the same grant of authority of the believer to act on behalf of Christ (and in His Name) is expressed in Holy Scripture which is a two-edged sword. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Just as any commissioned officer, or government magistrate, acts with the full authority of the granting power (the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government), so does the Christian act with the full authority of the power given him in Holy Scripture. But what does that mean?
When an American envoy is sent abroad to negotiate a treaty or compact with a foreign power, his authority is limited by the terms of his commission. If a treaty of peace is desired, the envoy has certain liberties to negotiate terms of peace by the sending power, he cannot go to negotiate peace, in other words, and wind up making a declaration of war. The same principle holds true for the Christian servant. He is empowered with authority to share his faith with one and all, but that expression of faith must conform to the Word of God.
Just as a government official may proclaim, “By the power vested in me by the President of the United States, under the U.S. Constitution, I proclaim thus and thus . . . “ so must the Christian adhere to the terms of his heavenly Constitution which is the Bible.
The authority of the Christian disciple is vested in him by the Lord Jesus Christ as the complete Word as defined in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John. When we pray, or when we act with authority in the Church, we do so in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ! If we act outside that authority, we are acting without a legal basis in the Spirit. When we pray, and do so in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, how often do we take that Name in vain and forget the matters for which we prayed in His Name?
Power and authority are related, but not identical. Power expresses ability to perform a duty or desire; but authority means the RIGHT to use that power. Our old friend and proponent of republicanism (a form of government in which all laws apply equally to every citizen regardless of rank or social standing), has expressed power and the law in this way:
“Power and law are not synonymous. In truth, they are frequently in opposition and irreconcilable. There is God’s Law from which all Equitable laws of man emerge and by which men must live if they are not to die in oppression, chaos and despair. Divorced from God’s eternal and immutable Law, established before the founding of the suns, man’s power is evil no matter the noble words with which it is employed or the motives urged when enforcing it. Men of good will, mindful therefore of the Law laid down by God, will oppose governments whose rule is by men, and if they wish to survive as a nation they will destroy the government which attempts to adjudicate by the whim of venal judges.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106-43 B.C.
Our vested authority from God is the most precious and grave of all authorities. The authority of God supersedes any manmade law. Just as we have a hierarchy of laws in a nation – local state, Federal, Constitutional, etc) – so do we have an authority above those governmental laws of men. God’s Law cannot be violated under the excuse of government warrant. A Christian does not remove his Christian robes at the portal of government. A Christian carries his faith wherever he goes!
When we pray in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must be sure that our prayers conform to His will, else we pray outside the boundaries of authority to act. Remember the words of the Lord’s Prayer? “THY WILL be done!” Not the will of the suppliant, but that will of the Father. If God’s will is done in our lives, then we will benefit the greatest possible amount from our prayer. When we have disposed of our carnal wills (which we falsely assume to be free) and have taken on the Holy Will of God, then amazing things happen. Suddenly our lives are attuned to that of our Maker and Manufacturer. We are living according to the Operator’s Manual, so to speak.
Ministers of the Lord have an especially grave authority to preach the Word without error. But many today have disregarded the plain words of the Holy Bible and preached a lie of their own carnal imaginations. The Osteens and Benny Hinns are examples in preaching the so-called prosperity gospel and claiming powers that belong to the Holy Spirit alone. Others have taken up, for the sake of an evil excuse, the politically correct wickedness of the day in accepting homosexual marriage and abortion. Dr. Adam Clarke describes such wicked men in the following ways from Jude: “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 1:11 (KJV)
“They have gone in the way of Cain—They are haters of their brethren, and they that are such are murderers; and by their false doctrine they corrupt and destroy the souls of the people.
The error of Balaam—For the sake of gain they corrupt the word of God and refine away its meaning, and let it down so as to suit the passions of the profligate. This was literally true of the Nicolaitans, who taught most impure doctrines, and followed the most lascivious practices.
Gainsaying of Core—See the account of the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and their company, in Numbers 22. It appears that these persons opposed the authority of the apostles of our Lord, as Korah and his associates did that of Moses and Aaron; and St. Jude predicts them a similar punishment. In this verse he accuses them of murder, covetousness, and rebellion against the authority of God.” —Adam Clarke’s Commentary
Just as a commissioned officer or official of the United States – commissioned by our President – acts with the authority of the President, so does the Christian professor, commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ, act on behalf and in the Name of Jesus Christ. But that action must be restricted to the express limits under our Bible Constitution. We do not merely have ‘a’ commission; we have a GREAT Commission under which we move and operate as disciples:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
So, dear Reader, “. . . Go, and do thou likewise,” too. Luke 10:37