God has ordained government to uphold justice and given its agents power; governments are empowered by Satan to advance the purposes of the powers and principalities of this age. These statements seem contradictory, and yet are both revealed in the New Testament and operative at the same time. We do well to consider the fraught nature and challenges of the relationship between Christians and civil government.
God has spoken through the Spirit to our fathers in the prophets and now in Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3). There’s a lot of profound truth in there which is all too easy to elide; we do well to unpack the authority present in the Spirit and the Word of God.
Almost all Christians will sign onto the premise that Jesus is Lord and Christ. But what do those terms mean? What do they demand of Christians, and of the entire world?
God has all authority, and is the Source of all authority (Romans 13:1). Lesson over, right? By no means! We do well to explore how God exercises His authority, and to what end.
The Western world is in a crisis of authority. We are skeptical of all authority except our own. It has not always been so, but the way authority has been used and abused is an age old story. A way out of the crisis exists, but it is surprising and not very easy.
Much is riding on our ability to properly discern what God would have us accomplish in Jesus. We do well to strive to diligently interpret and apply the New Testament; join us as we explore how we may best do so.
The Bible can be understood; God has communicated His purposes so that people can come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). God communicated according to human conventions of language, including in both literal and figurative ways. We do well to explore literal and figurative language in Scripture.
Paul has encouraged the Colossian Christians to root themselves in Jesus, the image of the invisible God, the treasury of all wisdom and knowledge. If they want to be alive in Christ, they must follow His higher way, taking off the worldly lusts and sins which lead to death, and to put on righteousness and its fruit.
If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.
Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience: wherein ye also once walked, when ye lived in these things; but now do ye also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth: lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.
Put on therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God. 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 (Colossians 3:1-17).
Christians are known as people who are supposed to read the Bible and do the things it says to do. But why is that? On what basis is the Bible authoritative for Christianity?
And when [Jesus] was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?” (Matthew 21:23).
The chief priests and elders did not their questions of Jesus in sincerity; nevertheless, the questions themselves are most valid. Society may seek to neglect the question, but if we want to live faithfully before God, we must grapple with the question: by what authority do we think, feel, speak, and act as we do? And who gave us this authority?