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.
Paul made explicit the mystery God had made known to the apostles and prophets: Gentiles are made fellow-citizens with the people of God. God has worked powerfully to accomplish His purposes in Christ, and would use that same power to advance His purposes through His people!
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles,– if so be that ye have heard of the dispensation of that grace of God which was given me to you-ward; how that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to wit, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of that grace of God which was given me according to the working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things; to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in him. Wherefore I ask that ye may not faint at my tribulations for you, which are your glory.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:1-21).
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?
Paul had never met the Colossian Christians but had heard good things about them and their faith. He wrote to encourage them to stand firm in their faith, for they had believed in the Gospel of the glorious Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God, who secured redemption for the whole cosmos.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ that are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have toward all the saints, because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which is come unto you; even as it is also in all the world bearing fruit and increasing, as it doth in you also, since the day ye heard and knew the grace of God in truth; even as ye learned of Epaphras our beloved fellow-servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray and make request for you, that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins:
who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; and he is before all things, and in him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell; and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens.
And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreproveable before him: if so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; whereof I Paul was made a minister (Colossians 1:1-23)
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?
Life “under the sun” seems to be all about getting and maintaining power for one’s own benefit. The Lord Jesus insisted on the way of service and suffering to overcome the powers and principalities over this present darkness. The church has no business lusting for power; it must follow the path of its Lord.
Power and control: we all want it more than we might like to admit. We do well to understand the dynamics of power, from whom power comes, and how we should exercise oversight and authority.