Authority for church, secular leaders comes from God, not from own minds

5/1/2007

By Glenn Martin
Guest Columnist 

Authority for church, secular leaders comes from God, not from own minds 

The real question the religious and government leaders had for Jesus was, “By what authority, or whose authority, do you do and say these things? 

It is the same question Pharoah had for Moses (Exodus 5:2), sometimes echoed by the children of Israel. The great prophets of God faced the same question as did the New Testament writers. 

Jesus said, “I can do nothing of my own authority.” (John 5:30) Matthew quotes Jesus after the resurrection saying “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) 

Isaiah said, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up”...”and I heard the voice of the Lord saying ‘whom shall I send and who will go for us’?” (Isaiah 6:1,8)  Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me saying...” (Jeremiah 1:4)  Amos said numerous times, “Thus saith the Lord.” 

Every policeman, every umpire or referee of games must have a source of authority to be fair and consistent with all participants. Except for TV wrestlers, all of us must play by the rules of the game; otherwise, every event would become a major argument. Yet that seems to be the way The United Methodist Church has begun to deal with issues of our very secular culture. We can even stand in the pulpit and express opinions that originate in human minds with no greater source of authority. 

If Jesus the Christ could “do nothing on His own authority,” how many of us can proceed in wisdom on our own authority? 

I know a landowner who sells every load of soil and gravel he possibly can. He has defaced many acres of land by doing so. He cuts every tree he can sell without replacing even one. Erosion of soil has become a major problem on “his land.” One can only wonder if he has ever heard, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1) 

The most effective sermon I preached during the hostile era of the 1960s was a 30-minute reading of scripture on how we relate to people and to God. God has a message for us in every matter that is important to us. 

When we prepare a sermon and preach, we are to preach “the Word,” not our little opinions lest we become our own source of authority. We are to offer repentance, forgiveness and salvation on behalf of the one who provides it. We live to represent one who has become our source of authority because “all authority in heaven and earth is given to Him.” 

Martin is a retired elder of the Mississippi Conference who lives in Grenada.