Systematic Theology – Authority
Authority and Power
Rushdoony Dr. R.J.R.
Let us begin with prayer. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. Thus said the high and lofty one who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy; “I dwell in the high and holy place with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the Spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite. If thou shalt seek the Lord Thy God thou shalt find Him; if thou seek Him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.” Let us pray.
Glory be to Thee oh God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We praise Thee on this day and always that Thy hand is every upon us for good. That all the days of our life Thou art mindful of us. Thou hast beset all our goings and our comings with Thy gracious love and care. Give us grace so to walk oh Lord that in all things we may seek to serve Thee, be faithful to Thy word, and rejoice in Thy providence, in Jesus name amen.
Rushdoony always begins with prayer. I don’t always quote it, though.
But this time I did.
Our scripture this morning is two verses of the chapter of Acts, Acts 1:7&8. Our subject is authority and power, authority and power.
“7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8 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.” As we have seen the New Testament word for authority in the Greek is exousia. It is translated in several ways in the New Testament. In Luke twenty-three verse seven it is translated as jurisdiction. In first Corinthians eight verse nine as liberty. Many, many times exousia is translated as “right” and when it is used in these various sense what it is trying to convey is that the authority to speak or act and the liberty to do so, and the rightness of such actions are all one and the same. We also have it translated as “strength” in one instance. In other words there is a relationship between power and authority; they are essentially one in God. In man power and authority do not necessarily go together. A tyrant may have a great deal of power but no, or very little, legitimate authority. A usurper or conquering army may have power, but no legitimate authority. A gunman breaking in and holding a family as hostage has power, but he has no authority. Authority means legitimate jurisdiction, a rightness morally; a liberty which comes from this legitimacy. There can be no separation of authority and power in the triune God. This is why kenosis is so evil and destructive a doctrine.
In man, power and authority don’t always stand together. Quite a lot of the laws and ethics of secular culture is enforced with power… and that’s all. There’s no truth or law behind it. just the will of powerful men and their guns, their courts, and media mouthpieces.
But the only reason why these jokers can claim to be anything at all, is because most Christians don’t really believe that God created heaven and earth. So, most Christians don’t really believe that God has total, lawful authority over the cosmos. And when you don’t fear, revere, and worship God, you are going to fear, revere, and worship some idol or other.
Even when such Christians cry out “Lord, Lord”, God knows different. The mocking secularists soon know different as well. And in time, the worthless servants will recognize what they really are.
But we have to go a step further; can we legitimately separate Godly authority and power? An ironic fact is that in the modern age a great deal of to-do is made about mothers when their authority is at a low ebb. But in terms of scripture than can be no separation of authority and power; in this sinful world Godliness may have authority, but it attracts hostility, it incites attacks. The aim of the ungodly is to obliterate God’s witness in man’s righteousness. Westminster Confession of faith says, with regard to holiness, that we are quickened and strengthened and given more authority in the practice of holiness. We are told that they who are effectually called and regenerated, have a new heart and a new spirit created in them are further sanctified really and personally through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection by His word and spirit dwelling in them. The dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. So that the Westminster confession tells us very quickly, very plainly, in the compass of one brief paragraph that there is a relationship in our lives between authority and power. Because when we grow in the authority of faithfulness to God, in the exercise of our calling we grow in power. And this development is not a Saint Vitus dance in no-man’s land. It is in the real world of everyday life, and the growth of holiness must be seen as the growth of power in and through the Holy Spirit.
When Christians are faithful, they grow in power.
So, when Christians are as weak and as powerless as they are today… it isn’t because God’s hand has grown short.
It’s because He is paying His faithless servants the wages they have earned.
I recommend that we repent, and strive again to be faithful and holy.
As the end of the road we are currently on ends only in death and hell.
And when I say “we”, I don’t mean a man there, a woman over yonder, two kids in the backwoods. I mean the entire Body of Christ.
We all must repent, and place God and His Will above all our life. Or at the very least, the God-fearers who repent can stay in the Body, but the God-haters must be cut off, to worship… whatever their true Lord happens to be.
God-haters are to visibly have no place in the Body of Christ: at least until they repent.
If we don’t do what God commands, God will make it happen Himself.
He WILL have his Pure Bride.
Whether you and I are counted as part of His assembly, His people, His Bride, is a separate question entirely.
In the American version of the Presbyterian form of government in 1788 when it was formulated the statement was made that truth is in order to goodness. And the statement goes on to declare very plainly that there is a correlation between virtues. When we develop one virtue we are going to strengthen ourselves in every virtue. We gain power and we gain authority, we gain strength. In brief true virtues do not come singly, and the grace of God comes to us to give us strength, growth, in every area of our lives. The fallen world is in hostility to God, it reacts with hatred and hostility and conflict ensues wherever Christian strength is manifested. But there is victory, and we must never forget it. Truth in order to goodness, it is also in order to authority, holiness, and power.
“In brief true virtues do not come singly, and the grace of God comes to us to give us strength, growth, in every area of our lives.”
The victory of God is a holistic, complete victory. In all ways.
“The fallen world is in hostility to God, it reacts with hatred and hostility and conflict ensues wherever Christian strength is manifested. But there is victory, and we must never forget it. Truth in order to goodness, it is also in order to authority, holiness, and power.”
When God’s people get serious about holiness, righteous, truth, and love – first in ourselves, than the family, the Christian assembly, the neighbourhood – the world will shake.
And if Christians today refuse to lead, then God will simply pick someone else. And His Holy Spirit will be withdrawn from those who reject it, and given to those who welcome it.
No fuss, no muss.
I believe that one of the greatest statements made in this century was made on June 15 1917 by a very remarkable man, Pope Benedict the 15th. His papacy was brief, 1914 – 1922. He is a virtually forgotten man today, but he had a great deal to say about the scriptures and about Biblical preaching. Consider what he said in these words, now this was when the war was being fought, little before we landed troops into Europe. And I quote, speaking of the reviving paganism of the world in the twentieth century “The causes of these evils are varied and manifold. No-one however will gainsay the deplorable fact, that the ministers of the word do not apply thereto an adequate remedy. Has the word of God then ceased to be what it was described by the apostle, living and effectual and more piercing than any two edged sword? Has long continued use blunted the edge of that sword? If that weapon does not everywhere produce its effect the blame certainly must be laid on those ministers of the gospel who do not handle it as they should. For no-one can maintain that the apostles were living in better times than ours. Or that they found minds more readily disposed toward the gospel, or that they met with less opposition to the law of God.” That’s a tremendous statement. Benedicts point is very clear. The authority and the power of the word of God enabled the apostles and their successors to challenge and overthrow the paganism of their day against incredible odds. It was a grim battle, but very early Rome knew that the Christians represented power.
We have less opposition said Benedict in 1917, and the fault is not that the word of God has lost its power, but that we do not proclaim it as we should. The church today wants to be a democracy, not a monarchy whose king is Christ. Is predestination unpopular with the people? Well then we won’t talk about it. Is the doctrine of responsibility unpopular with the people, we want to blame the environment and everything else? Well we won’t stress it. This is the order of the day, men preach to please people. Congregations object if what is said from the pulpit does not agree with them. Private judgment rules against God’s word.
Western Civilization is not dying because the Secularists killed it, flesh and soul, mind and reason, child and elder, testicles and womb.
Western Civilization is dying because Christians explicitly and knowingly refused to lift a finger to defend the patrimony given to us. Free Stuff and a comfortable life trumped all other considerations.
Even the very will of God.
It’s time to change course, from the heading these delusional, irrational, totalitarian humanists – left-wing and right-wing – have set for us.
But we are told in the book of Acts, first chapter verses seven and eight certain things. First the word that is used in verse seven is exousia, power and authority. Then we are told that we shall receive power. God the Father keeps in His own power the knowledge of the timing of history. Men cannot seek after that knowledge; they must know only what He tells us. As Deuteronomy 29 verse 29 says “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” What is the purpose of knowledge? That we may do all the words of this law Moses said.
Now the believer who is faithful to God in this sense receives power and authority. Ye shall receive power. How? In order to do His will, to be His witnesses, to do His work. Now the reference here some would say is to Pentecost, but it is far more. Because the primary emphasis, in fact the exclusive reference here is to the testimony, the witness. Not the gifts of the spirit but the gift of the spirit that we might function day by day in whatever we do, for the Lord and His kingdom. So the emphasis is upon the power that manifests itself, in faithfulness to the word, in the proclamation of the word, in being governed by the word. Ye shall be my witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth. Our Lord here speaks against curiosity, he recalls men to their duty. What the disciples had been asking about was “you tell us how history is going to develop.” And today a great deal of preaching is about the rapture, and people want charts to know what to expect. When will Russia move against us, or when will the rapture or the tribulation and all that nonsense take place? Morbid curiosity, not “what are God’s marching orders for me now?” What doth the Lord require of me?
These are two different religions. One that seeks knowledge in order to protect oneself and withdraw from reality, the other to go out and conquer, to exercise power in the name of God. Today we honor the forms of power. We honor authority outwardly and we have a Mother’s Day and we have a Father’s Day and we have all kinds of days on the calendar. But in reality the authority that should be represented in what those things symbolize is lacking. Authority and power come from God, and they must be united. The Holy Spirit gives us power to act for the Lord, this gift of the spirit is not for our personal pleasure or satisfaction or contentment.
It is time for the good guys to win.
Which, by definition, means that it is time for the bad guys to lose.
We need a new Ruling Class.
A Ruling Class that exercises power in the name of God, and in accordance to His law. (As opposed to the arbitrary babble of intellectual, financial, political or military authority.)
A ruling Class that focuses in subjecting our selves, our families, our assemblies, our businesses and our civil societies under the Law of God.
A Ruling Class that respects Moses: so instead of some top-down Secularist (or Islamic) tyranny, we have bottom-up local authority, set in families of ten household heads, then groups of 50, then a hundred families, then a thousand. (Exodus 18). With all political power set at the lowest levels, unless an appeal to a higher court is needed for a particularly difficult problem.
Very shortly after the end of World War II was published which was an instant best seller; and the title of it sets for the goal of man in the post-war world. I believe the authors name was Lieberman the title was Peace of Mind peace of mind. This has been the great quest of modern man. Virtually all of us want peace of mind, and we forget that peace of mind we are never told in scripture that it is a legitimate goal, it’s only a byproduct. Happiness is not a legitimate goal, it’s a byproduct; Of what? Of doing the will of God, of working in terms of what God has appointed us to do, of being useful to him and to his kingdom. So that if we want peace of mind we must say “Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?” Paul tells us in II Corinthians 3:17 “Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty.” Because there too is power, there too is authority, and there is freedom then to go forward in the name of Christ and His kingdom.
When Paul says “where the Spirit of God is there is liberty, the word liberty is a translation of the Greek word eleftheria. Once in a while you encounter that as a name, it was once a little more popular than it is now, but in the past few years I have met a woman whose name was Eleftheria. Her parents who were obviously well-educated and knew there Greek, or else they probably had a great-grandmother who had that name. Eleftheria as Paul uses it in II Corinthians 3:17 means freedom of access to God, and freedom in Christ for greater movement. Where the Spirit of God is there is liberty, freedom for greater movement and freedom of access to God. Now this matter of access to God of which Paul speaks is something that doesn’t mean much to us today. But we must remember that scripture presents God as the great King, the King of all creation, king of the universe, and access to the king meant that power and authority had been conferred upon you. Tremendous fact, if you could walk into the presence of an emperor, when you walked out people virtually bowed before you because they knew they would never get to see the emperor, but you had power. That access gave you authority and power so that they sought favor from you, sought to please you because you were a person of power. And what are we told? We have that access. We have it when we walk in faithfulness to God. We walk in the Spirit and we have power, we have access. We pray, and we have access, it’s the privilege of being a Christian. It gives us power and authority if we want it.
Access to the Throneroom of God is better than access to all the cabinets and legislatures and Presidential Studies on Earth. Combined.
To rule lawfully, God’s people must dedicate themselves to the expansion of God’s Kingdom. Not our power, and not some priestly or political hierarchy, but to Christ and His Law-Word.
The word of God is the totally authoritative word and therefore the word of power. If Christians in their churches are powerless and sit in their pews week after week wondering why the world is going to hell it is because they have neglected the all conquering weapon which is at hand. We have access to the throne of power, we are given authority and power if we chose to use it. We have been called to be kings, priests, and prophets in Christ. The world is ours to conquer, will we do it? Let us pray.
Oh Lord our God Thy word is truth and Thy word is the word of power and authority. Make us strong in Thy word, in Thy work, and in prayer; that we might be a generation of victors knowing that this the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith. Bless us to this purpose we beseech Thee, in Jesus name amen.
We have been called to be kings, priests, and prophets of God.
We have neglected our calling, God’s command, so we have these howling incompetents set above us.
It’s long past time to repent of our sin before God, and so God can shatter their chains, and free us to serve Him.
And Him alone.