Respecting the Authority of Christ

Respecting the Authority of Christ

At a time in which everyone does what is right is his own eyes (Judges 17:6), the challenge to respect the authority of Christ is great. This present age is very much like those described in the pages of history. Consider Israel, in 1 Samuel 8, who demanded a king to rule over them like the surrounding nations. The problem was that they already had a King, Jehovah, but they rejected Him (1 Sam. 8:6-9). In his pride, man seeks to become his own authority. He desires to establish his own rules, judgements, and consequences. He follows his own way! But “the way of a fool is right in his own eyes…” (Pro. 12:15), and “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Pro. 14:12). True wisdom is found in fearing the Lord and respecting His authority (Pro. 1:7). Therefore, it is imperative that we rise to the challenge and respect the authority of the Son of God. 

The Father has placed all authority into the hands of Jesus, and we are commanded to respect it. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). John said, “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand” (John 3:36). To a crowd of unbelieving Jews, Jesus said, 

For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man (John 5:26-27). 

Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father 

far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Eph. 1:21). 

He is “the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:10), His name is above every name (Phil. 2:9), and “angels and authorities, and powers” are subject to Him (1 Pet. 3:22). The New Testament proclaims the authority of Jesus the Christ loudly throughout its pages and commands all people to recognize it. Jesus said, “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him (John 5:23). Paul said, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (Col. 3:17). Every knee must bow, and every tongue confess the Lordship and authority of Jesus Christ, either in this life or in the judgment to come. 

The authority of Christ is seen in His word. Jesus said, 

He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak  (John 12:48-50).

Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would teach and bring to their remembrance all things that He had taught them (John 14:26). He further said, 

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come (John 16:12-13). 

The Holy Spirit inspired the apostles to preach and write the words of Christ. Therefore, when we read the pages of New Testament scripture, we read words that carry the full weight of divine authority. All scripture is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and written down by men who were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21). Respecting the authority of Christ means respecting His word. John warned that those who transgress and go beyond the doctrine of Christ “have not God” (2 John 9-11). Paul proclaimed those who preach “any other gospel” to be accursed (Gal. 1:6-11). Opinions, traditions, and false doctrines of every sort are an affront to the authority of Christ. We must respect, preach, and apply His word, not ours. For, only then, will we truly respect the authority of Christ. 

The authority of Christ is also seen in the fact that He is head over His church. Jesus proclaimed “…on this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). The church belongs to Christ. He purchased her with His blood (Acts 20:28). She is His body (Eph. 1:22-23) and His bride (Eph. 5:23), and therefore it should not surprise us to learn that He alone possesses the right to reign as King and Ruler over her. Colossians 1:18 says, 

and He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 

He is “head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). 

As head, Jesus is the one who determines doctrine and direction. No man has the right to dictate what the church teaches, how it worships, or how its members live daily. We owe honor and allegiance to Christ, and no man. All men stand on equal ground at the foot of the cross. Even elders serve under the chief shepherd (1 Pet. 5). To exalt a man or a man’s doctrine to the level of Christ and His doctrine is to violate God’s law and disrespect the authority of Jesus. 

Until the day that He gives the kingdom over to the Father and lays down His authority (1 Cor. 15:20-28), Jesus has all authority. It can be challenging to respect that authority, especially when the cry of our world is “to each his own!” but we must rise and meet that challenge!