The Example of Jesus

From a series of key words and studies for youth, by Mike Glenn

Hi everyone. God says it… that settles it! Our slogan rings with the truth that whether it is a command, an exhortation, or simply a statement from God, we must give it the fullest respect or obedience possible. Our memory verse this next week is John 14:15. Today’s text for study is Phil. 2:1-11. We will pay particular attention to the example that Christ set in respecting the authority of God.

It is not demeaning to be under someone. Everyone is under someone. Christ was equal with God according to our text (v. 6). Yet, out of his love for us he gave up that equality and “made himself of no reputation.” He placed himself under the Father (1 Cor. 15:27). Yet, Christ is not demeaned for his sacrifice and willingness to be under the authority of God. Rather, even among non-Christians, he is considered the best man who ever walked the earth. Yet, there can be no doubt he was also the most submissive to the Father’s authority. Sometimes others try to demean us when we respect authority. Kids may call their friends sissies, teacher’s pet, mamma’s boy when those kids choose to honor authority rather than rebel. Even among adults pressure in the form or ridicule or anger is brought in order to get someone to disrespect authority.

Humility is essential in respecting authority. The scripture says that Jesus humbled himself (v. 8). Without humility we might tend to think that we deserve to be our own authority. This is the way most in world act. Such a feeling would cause us to chaff under authority or even rebel against authority. A study we will do later on about Korah will show this very attitude (Num. 16:1-17:13). One of the important ideas of respect for authority is to recognize that we need authority over us, especially God (Is. 55:8-9). Such an attitude will make us thankful for rule and guidance in our lives. We will appreciate those who have accepted that responsibility.

Respecting authority results in obedience to that authority. Verse 8 also says that Jesus became obedient even to death. We sometimes disobey God just because He asks us to go a little out of the way such as Mt. 5:16 would require. Jesus was obedient to death, but we have not yet resisted unto blood (Heb. 12:4).

Brothers and sisters, let’s respect the authority of God as did our Savior.

#authority, #humility, #respect-for-authority, #youth

Slandering the Authorities (Part 4)

In this series we have stressed that Christians should both submit and give appropriate honor to earthly authorities. Furthermore, we are to pray for our leaders and speak evil of no one. Slanderous tongues should not belong to genuine followers of Jesus!

But this leaves a serious question unanswered: How should a Christian respond to wickedness he sees in the lives of his contemporaries (i.e., whether they are his neighbors or the civil authorities)? The Bible is clear that he should not speak evil of anyone (which would include evildoers!). What is he to do then? Should he simply ignore the wicked behavior and remain silent concerning it? Is there a way in which Christians can stand against evil in a respectful, God-approved fashion, without being guilty of slander or becoming bitter? The answer is a resounding yes.

In addition to the Scriptures we have considered thus far in this series and the example of Christ Himself, let us consider two other biblical examples that are worthy of our emulation. I believe these examples show us how we, who are striving to be holy, can respond to wickedness without becoming guilty of slander.

THE ANGELS
II Peter 2:9-11 – “Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.”

Two characteristics that identify those who walk according to the flesh are that they “despise authority” and “they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries.” Let that sink in, friends, and may we not be guilty of either! Those who do not show respect and speak evil against authorities (which are appointed by God) are unjust and will fall under God’s judgment!

The angels of God, however, who are mightier and more powerful than any mortal, will not slander those who do evil. What gives us the right to do so? Pride makes us think we are something special, but even if we were something great, slander would still have no proper place in our lives. The angels know their proper place; they know that only the Lord can condemn those who do evil. May we learn from their example!

THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL
We have another example that will further teach us not to slander: the archangel Michael. When he was arguing with the devil–Satan himself–Michael did not slander him. Now, who is more evil in the Universe than the father of lies (cf. John 8:44)? No one! Who is more deserving of being slandered than Satan? No one! But even a leader among angels would not bring himself to slander or condemn Satan! That, to me, is incredible. Jude 9 reads – “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!'” And there’s our answer as to how we should speak to evildoers: Don’t slander them, and leave all condemnation up to God. When you are tempted to speak evil of anyone, restrain yourself to four powerful words – “The Lord rebuke you!” In the end, all condemnation and vengeance is in God’s hands anyway, not ours. “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).

When Paul was desiring to return to Corinth and help the church there, he said – “For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish…that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder” (II Cor. 12:20, ESV). It was Paul’s prayer that the Corinthians did not fall prey to these sins. He feared such might be present in their lives, and I fear such is present in the lives of too many Christians today. What would Jesus find in your heart and life if He returned today? Make sure slander has no root in your heart and no place on your lips!

#authority, #slander

Slandering the Authorities (Part 3)

We have been contemplating how Christians should view and treat earthly authorities. Paul has clearly stated that we should both submit and give appropriate honor to them. We must also follow Jesus’ example of not reviling those who mistreat us, even if they are earthly authorities.

It must be understood, however, that simply avoiding a sour attitude and slanderous speech against earthly rulers is not enough. The New Testament also instructs us to pray for them! Consider I Timothy 2:1-4:

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

We are to pray for our leaders, particularly in two fundamental ways: (1) That there might be stability while they govern (which will benefit all people desiring to live tranquil lives), and (2) That they might come to a knowledge of God’s truth, believe, obey, and be saved. Notice that Paul gives this advice regardless of how moral or immoral the leader may be! Christians should pray for the spiritual well-being of their leaders as well as their own physical well-being while under the authority of the leaders.

If one truly petitions God on behalf of his leaders, he will not be quick to slander those same people (cf. James 3:9-12). This is certainly one reason why Jesus instructs His followers to pray for those who persecute them (cf. Matt. 6:44). It is harder to mistreat or speak inappropriately against one for whom you are genuinely praying.

Titus 3:1,2 is also relevant here – “Remind them to be subject to the rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” The Christian is to speak evil of no one! Paul could not have worded that prohibition in a broader fashion. Now let’s make application. Is it proper for us to slander the wicked? No. It is proper for us to slander our enemies? No. Is it proper for us to slander the earthly powers that be when they don’t do as we desire? No. It is wrong to slander anyone for any reason. How could Paul be any plainer? “Be subject to the rulers and authorities…obey…speak evil of no one…be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” Friends, slanderous tongues belong to sinners, not saints!

Although my observations are limited and could therefore be mistaken, I believe slander is a sin that isn’t talked about very often in the brotherhood. However, the New Testament writers have made it clear that Christians must not speak evil of others–period. In addition to the passages we have already read, consider two more:

Ephesians 4:29-31 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers, and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”
I Peter 2:1 – “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.”

We will conclude this study in our next lesson.

#authority, #slander

Slandering the Authorities (Part 2)

In our prior lesson, we began considering how Christians should view earthly authorities. Paul was clear in stating that we should both submit and give appropriate honor to them. Peter echoes Paul’s commands in I Peter 2:13-17:

“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to the governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men–as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

It is easy to submit to and honor a civil leader who is righteous, but the New Testament doesn’t command our submission and honor in only that case. We are to obey and respect wicked leaders, too! If the government uses tax dollars to murder the unborn, for example, we must still pay our taxes. If the government supports immorality like homosexuality, we must still show proper respect with our words toward the one in authority. We can disagree respectfully without being slanderous! We do not have to like or approve of a civil leader’s agenda in order to honor the office he holds. Remember, the authorities that exist are appointed by God! Christians must not personally engage in wicked behavior, and we do have the duty to disobey civil authorities if they try to force us to commit sin (e.g., Acts 5:29).

In America today, we are blessed to have much freedom, even though many of our civil leaders do not uphold godly values. I am unaware of Christians in our country being forced by the government into committing sin. Thus, our duty is simple: obey and show proper respect. Based on personal experience, I would speculate that more Christians struggle with the latter than they do the former. Disciples of Christ generally are outstanding citizens (that’s the way it should be!). They pay their taxes and faithfully comply with government regulations. However, while these individuals rightly submit to the government, their attitudes and speech sometimes convey bitterness and slander toward their earthly authorities. This is not good since God has commanded us to “Honor the king,” or, in our case, the president, members of Congress, governors, etc. We must honor in both word and deed, but are we doing that?

Some might be inclined to think that it was easier to obey and honor worldly authorities back in the first century when Peter wrote I Peter 2:13-17. That is simply untrue. Christians in that day faced extreme persecutions from unbelievers and civil authorities. Yet even in the face of this persecution by the government, Peter still tells us to submit and give honor. Historical lore tells us that Peter died at the command of Nero who murdered countless Christians by lighting them on fire to be the torches in his garden and feeding them to lions for sport. Peter knew of the challenge involved in both submitting to and honoring civil authorities, yet he still wrote what he did under the inspiration of God!

It’s easy to give in to the urge to despise our authorities when they don’t do what we desire and slander them with our tongues, but this is sinful. To reject or despise authority is ungodly (cf. II Pet. 2:10; Jude 8). Jesus did not despise authority when He was brutally beaten and unjustly crucified by the Romans (e.g., Acts 8:32). He is truly a perfect example for us to pattern our behavior and speech after – “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (I Pet. 2:21-23).

We will continue this study in our next lesson.

#authority, #slander

Slandering the Authorities (Part 1)

Special thanks goes to Andrew Swango, a friend and faithful brother in Christ, for sharing some thoughts with me on authority and slander. I have adapted his work for presentation here and split it into several parts. Part 1 is presented below.

Emperor, King, Queen, President, Prime Minister–these are just a few of the many titles used by earthly authorities. No matter where people live, there is an earthly authority over their nation or tribe. Undeniably, not all leaders are equal in terms of influence, ability, intellect, or morality. Some seem only concerned about their own legacy and retention of their power. Others, even with their flaws, are more noble-minded and genuinely do their best to serve their constituents. Perhaps you are wondering: Why should followers of Jesus Christ spend time contemplating earthly authorities? Since we are to set our minds on things that are above (cf. Col. 3:2), of what concern to us are temporal, earthly leaders? The answer to these questions is simple: The Bible has something to say about how we treat the authorities over us. Christians are called to view the earthly powers that be in a specific way.

Although each person is under various civil authorities, the New Testament is clear that there is a spiritual authority that trumps all worldly authorities and His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus’ authority is given to Him by God the Father (cf. John 17:2; Matt 28:18). Jesus, the supreme ruler, is greater than any authority here on Earth. Ephesians 1:21 speaks of Jesus as “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.” Not only is Jesus above all earthly authorities, but these authorities are created by and for Jesus, and He sustains them all (cf. Col. 1:16,17). When Jesus stood before him silently, Pilate affirmed that he possessed the power to crucify and the power to release. Jesus replied to Pilate – “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11).

Jesus is above every emperor, king, queen, president, and prime minister. But what does that mean for us? Christians must submit to Christ ultimately, but in the present age we also find ourselves under the authority of worldly rulers. What should our attitude be toward these civil authorities? Paul has much to say about this matter in Romans 13:1-7:

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain, for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

Since there is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by Him, God must have a role in the establishment of every worldly power and its leadership. This is a significant point to ponder. Every nation will be used as an instrument of God to accomplish His will. This is true whether they are good or bad (though the good nations invariably last longer; cf. Prov. 14:34). Civil authorities are God’s servants. We see this throughout the Old Testament as God used pagan nations to discipline the Israelites. Today, God calls each Christian to submit to whatever government he finds himself under. We are to obey civil authorities since to resist them (“God’s ministers”) is to resist God! Furthermore, Christians are to pay taxes and tolls as well as give honor and respect to those whom it is due. We owe these things to earthly authorities, even when our leaders are wicked and we would prefer to withhold both our money and respect.

We will continue this study in our next lesson.

#authority, #slander

What’s Your Source?

Every weekday for years at about 11:30 a.m. the telephone operator in a small town received a call from a man asking for the exact time. One day she got up the nerve to ask him why he called so often.

“I’m foreman of the local saw mill,” the man explained, “every day I have to blow the whistle exactly at noon, so I call you for the correct time.”

“That’s funny,” the operator giggled, “All these years we’ve been setting our clock by your whistle!”

This is a funny story and as long as every is on the same page regarding time what does it really matter?   However regarding things truly transcendent it is vital we go to the right source.

When humans use other humans as authority in spiritual matters it might sound appealing, it might feel good and it might seem right. Using these criteria will not make it right. There is only one source for spiritual matters. God is that source. It is found in his revelation. That revelation is called the Bible. There is none other.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

#authority, #bible, #source

Jesus in Mark 2

In Mark chapter 2, Jesus, the untiring servant of God, met a sick man whose bed had been lowered so he might be healed.

But, one interesting thing in the passage is Jesus knew the thoughts of the scribes and Pharisees in the room.

Though there have been many magicians who have performed illusions of mindreading, and there have been others who appear to do the same, there has never existed a true mind reader except for Jesus Christ.

Christ had this attribute of God on earth, similar to the ability of omnipresence recorded in John 1 with Nathaniel.

Jesus dealt with the sick man’s truly deadly disease ― sin ― and then he turned his attention to the thoughts of the Jews.

The Bible, which gives us the mind of God on the subject, tells us in this chapter the Jews were thinking, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7 ESV).

This would have been true, except Jesus IS God (John 1:1). Because he is, he did not blaspheme.

The other truly remarkable thing here is that Jesus says, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home,” (Mark 2:10-11 ESV). Jesus had not only the power to heal this man, but also he had the authority to forgive his sins.

Jesus had the exousian to forgive sins. This is the same word used in Matthew 28:18 when Jesus said, “All authority has been given me…”

Yes, Jesus is a Savior who has compassion for men. But, he also has authority over them. His way is the only way (John 14:6).

#authority, #jesus-christ, #mark

Balance, balance, balance

Balance, brethren.

Too far to the right, and we bind where God has not bound.

Too far to the left, and we loose where God HAS bound.

Balance on the mountaintop of Bible authority (and common sense). (With thanks to Roy Deaver.)

#authority, #balance

“There is no divine authority for instr…

“There is no divine authority for instrumental music in New Testament worship. There is no command for it, no example of it, no record of it in scripture, no support for it in history, and no mention of it in religious service for hundreds of years after the New Testament era. If we believe in the authority principle then there simply is no place for the use of instrumental music in sacred worship”

Alan Highers

#authority, #instrumental-music, #worship

Favorite Compliment Jesus Pays

My favorite compliment that Jesus paid was to the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10, when He said to him:

“Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”

The centurion was representative of the Gentiles, who Jesus said would enter into heaven long before any of the so-called “religious” Jews would (Matthew 8:11-12). Being in command of soldiers, he truly understood authority and its implications, whereas the religious Jews often disregarded God’s authority and commands (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13).

#authority, #centurion, #command, #compliment, #faith, #paid, #religious, #representative

Design parameters and authority

When looking through machinery manuals you occasionally see the phrase, “Do not operate outside the design parameters.” Why do manufacturers include this statement? They don’t want you to have a breakdown because you didn’t follow operating instructions.

Operate equipment within the design parameters and it’s possible to run some equipment for decades without a single problem. Ignore them and you can have a huge mess on your hands in short order.

Spiritually, sexually, mentally and morally, we were made to operate within a certain set of design parameters. These parameters were not created to stifle or punish us.

In fact, quite the opposite, they keep us safe and bring us happiness. Misuse your sexuality and grief will follow. Often for the rest of your life. Yet a man and woman who follow God’s directions for marriage will experience the marvelous intimacy and pleasure He intended.

Envy, greed, worry, even hopelessness will destroy from within, but God calls on us to do and be the opposite of each one of those things. By doing the opposite we are healed within and find a blessedness that can only be found in Him.

What does this have to do with authority? Everything. Too many people, including some Christians, whine about how restrictive the Christian life is. They seem to think God is keeping them from having fun. These people are ripe for the picking. They give into temptation because they’re not convinced the Lord has their best interests at heart. It’s so sad since the happiness they seek is found by living within the design parameters.

Our view of authority is one of the big problems in western culture. Those of us sixty-ish and under were raised in a culture that promoted civil disobedience and to some extent it carried over into our view of the authority of God.

Like it or not, God is sovereign. Accept it or not, God is holy, just, and merciful. Believe it or not, He has your best interests at heart.

#authority, #blessings, #temptation

When I think of authority, that prompts …

When I think of authority, that prompts me to think of submission.

Christ has all authority, and we are commanded to submit to him, Matt. 28:18.
We are to submit to the governing authorities, as long as they do not make demands contrary to the will of God, Rom. 13:1; Acts 5:29
We are to submit to elders, Heb. 13:17
Wives are to submit to their husbands,, Col. 3:18
Children are to submit to their parents, Eph. 6:1
Servants are to be obedient to Masters, Eph. 6:5.

No matter our age or position in life, there will always be someone in authority above us. Parents need to do a better job instilling into their children proper respect for authority. Too often parents are afraid to be authoritative in the lives of their children. However, learning to respect and submit to authority on a rudimentary level is vital preparation for submitting to various authorities in life, not the least of which is Christ, our ultimate authority. When parents provide godly authority for their children, it enables children to feel secure. Likewise, I feel a great sense of security when I think of Christ, because He is my perfect authority. Anything he requires of me is for my own good.

On a personal note, living here in Tanzania I do feel a certain amount of trepidation towards those in positions of authority in the world. Many are not interested in truth and justice, but in personal gain. However, I know that Christ will cause justice to reign in the end, and that is where my security lies.

#authority, #christ, #submission

When I think of authority, I think of. . .

comfort, encouragement, and love. The One who has complete authority is the same One who loved me so much that He gave His life for me. Am I under his authority? Absolutely, where else would any child of God want to be.

On a news note, I spent the day at one of my favorite places, Freed-Hardeman University, enjoying Makin’ Music. We took a group down and enjoyed the fellowship and great weather.

We have some beautiful talented kids in the church. Let’s keep them in our prayers.

#authority, #daily-nudge, #encouragement, #news

What connotations does “authority” hold for me?

Submission! Being raised in an abusive environment I used to have a lot of authority issue problems. For one, I was rebellious. I believe it was after a congregational Bible study by a preacher that I began to wilt in my relationship with God. I was never going to make it, because I could never be good enough. That was a subconscious message in my head from never being good enough or being a failure from my parental father. It wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I learned what unconditional love was all about. Once I got the old messages out of my head, I could related to God as a loving heavenly Father. I now look at myself as a mere speck of sand and in awe that God cares, but he does. That is what authority is to me now. I am just a speck of sand in all of God’s creation, who am I to put myself on the same level or above God. People do it, but deny that is what they are doing. When ever you hear some one say or read “I” when discussing what the Bible teaches, they are putting themselves equal to or above God. There is no submission to authority, but to their own. To me they are arrogant and self serving, putting themselves in hell.

#authority, #god, #submit

Authority

“The History Channel” presented a documentary on Andrew Jackson Friday night that brought this very question of authority to my mind.

 Jackson lived his early life resenting and hating the British and was scarred by their treatment of his mother and of himself. Jackson grew up hating the Indians because of the injuries they afflicted on his mother. He lived a great deal of his adult life as a general of an army and the master of his own plantation. He made the rules, and he would not abide others breaking or questioning his rules.

When Jackson married his wife, Rachel, he did so with the full knowledge that she was still married to another man. The evidence points out that Jackson knew (or should have known) what he was doing. He decided to marry Rachel in spite of the Biblical teachings and not in harmony with them. He fought duels with men who pointed out the error of his actions, killing some. As far as General Jackson was concerned, he lived outside any authority but his own.

As President, Jackson continued this philosophy in his treatment of the Cherokee Indians and other tribes, requiring them to be relocated to the lands that would become Oklahoma. He did this in spite of a Supreme Court case the Cherokees won, which he, as president, had the duty to enforce, but did not. He is reported to have said, “John Marshall has made his decision. Now, let him enforce it.”

If we live in accordance with the Bible, then we live according to its precepts and place its authority over us in all things. Christians submit, and they submit to the authority of the Word of God, because the word was the means by which they were born of God (James 1:18).

#authority, #bible