Description: We ruin relationships with family and friends when we criticize them or try and make them into what we want.
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Perhaps just for the last night tonight, dear ones, let’s talk about authority and from a slightly
different angle. You know that we’ve been talking over the past three or four Sundays about
authority and subjection primarily from the point of view of subjection. We’ve been talking about
our position and our responsibility to submit to those in authority over us, and to treat especially
delegated authority’s as the authority of God himself.
Do you remember what we found out from Jesus’ own attitude which is kind of appropriate even in the
face of Watergate? Matthew 22:21, and you remember he was speaking of at least as corrupt a
government certainly as we’re finding we have had. And Matthew 22:21, and verse 17 would start the
question, “’Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But
Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the money for
the tax.’ And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is
this?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that
are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’”
And it’s from Jesus’ own example, and from especially the passage in Romans 13, where Paul advises
us to be subject to those in authority over us because they have been appointed by God. It’s
because of that that we have shared our responsibility as Christians to submit to the authority’s
and trust God to deal with them. That’s even in the face of Watergate, brothers and sisters. I
think some of us can see how in a sense we made it all the more difficult probably.
Now I don’t want to go out and argue this one but it’s a possibility that we made it more difficult
for the press to get hold of the new approach, because of a great deal of the rebellion and the
revolution among us. In a sense, probably, the system has enough of God’s grace working within the
society to make it work. So we can see how at least up to the present time we thank God, our
system seems to be working. As long as there is an aware and live alert populous with a conscience
of their own. So it kind of brings out the fact that our place is to submit to those in authority,
and God will deal with the authorities.
Nevertheless, I think all of us can see that the authorities that we have had over us have certainly
not forwarded the cause of God or the cause of truth in our society or in the world. And what I’d
like to talk about tonight is the qualifications for delegated authorities that are going to be used
by God. Now brothers and sisters, do you see we are committed to submit to those delegated
authorities? I suppose Holderman was not an authority really. But we’re to submit to the
authorities of Nixon and presumably Agnew, and presumably Mitchell whatever they’re like, and we’re
to trust God to turn back the mistakes that they make, and to save us from the mistakes that they
But we can see that God wants delegated authorities who do his will, that’s really what he wants.
That’s what you and I are to be. Why I’d like to deal therefore with the qualifications of
delegated authorities is, the delegated authorities will forward actually God’s will. They will not
thwart it, they will not frustrate his will, and they will make a way for his will. I say this
because all of us are going to be delegated authorities. If you’re not going to be a dad and mum,
at least you’re going to be a friend and a counselor to someone who is younger or more junior than
yourself in spiritual things, and eventually all of us are going at least in that human personal way
to be delegated authorities.
But in the bigger sense of the body, do you see that if we’re going to get 10,000 of us out in the
world for Jesus to deal with the 2.5 billion people who don’t know him, then everybody really who is
in the body at this time is going to be a leader, whether you want to or not. We’re all going to
have to be leaders in some sense. So, loved ones, I share this with you as applicable to you. Not
just to the elders and to myself to whom Jesus is speaking, but to all of us who are going to come
into a position of being delegated authorities.
One of the qualifications for delegated authorities is in Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject
to the governing authorities.” Here is the irrelevant clause, “For there is no authority except
from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” So a delegated authority has to be
absolutely convinced that the authority comes from God, not from himself. It is not your opinions
or my ideas, it is not your insight or my cleverness that originates the authority. It is the
Father who owns the authority, and it is his authority alone that we exercise. In other words, if
you think of a policeman and a judge, they do not write the law. The authority does not come from
then — they are only representing the law that already exists.
Now so in delegated authority we don’t have the authority from ourselves — we have it from God.
So, brothers and sisters, do you see it’s important that we do not exercise authority on the basis
of our own opinions or our own ideas, or our own plans? It’s vital that we see that is comes from
God, and that it is a knowledge of God’s will that gives us the authority. And unless a man or a
woman knows Gods will in a particular instance they cannot exercise authority.
So if you come to me and share some of your life and some of the difficulties with me, I cannot
think that my brilliant little mind has met these difficulties before, and so out of the wealth and
my wisdom I will share what you want to do. I cannot do that, nor can you do it if you’re a
delegated authority. The only justification for giving you any kind of advice as a delegated
authority of God is that I know Gods will in that particular instance, and loved ones, that’s the
basis for delegated authority.
It is not because my ideas are better than your ideas. Brothers and sisters, it isn’t even because
I might be older spiritually than you, and it isn’t because some of the older brothers and sisters
here might be older chronologically than us, or even older spiritually. It is because you know
God’s will in a certain instance, and therefore our job really is to seek God’s will.
Now obviously this is why God puts younger brothers and sisters under older brothers and sisters.
Because at the beginning it’s very hard to know what is God’s will in certain situations, and is
very hard to know even in general attitudes that you have in your own life whether they are God’s
will or not. That’s why the Father graciously puts us, when we’re younger under older brothers and
sisters. Nevertheless the older ones who are the delegated authorities are under the same
They can only give an opinion, or give advice, or direct a younger brother and sister on the basis
of then knowing God’s will themselves. Brothers and sisters, it’s from learning, it’s from the
things you learn from God in secret then your authority issues. And if you do not learn things from
God then you have no authority. Now do you see that put paid to all the worldly wisdom that we want
to pass on to each other, or all the good general advice that we have for each other? That’s just a
knowledge of good and evil that is no basis for our authority, the only basis we have is knowing
Now if you say to me, “All right brother, does it mean every time I come to you, yet that you have
to first have a long prayer session to know Gods will?” No, it is very possible that God gives
before hand to a delegated authority the answer to a certain question before it comes to him. Now
it’s not that I sit in my office and think, “Ah yeah now Jim is going to come with this question and
I have got the answer.” No, but it’s when the question comes a delegated authority knows whether
God has given it to him or not.
Now here’s the important thing, if you don’t know, shut up. Really, and that’s a hard thing. It’s
a really hard thing for us to do, but it’s really the second qualification of delegated authorities.
You must deny yourself speaking in your own natural wisdom. You must just keep your mouth closed
if you don’t know what God is saying. It is possible that you’re the only one in the world that
thinks your ideas are best. It is, it’s just possible that you are the only one in the world that
thinks your ideas are best. Maybe nobody else thinks your ideas are best. In fact, your ideas are
not worth sharing.
There’s a real need brothers and sisters, to deny ourselves sharing our own ideas, and to keep quiet
when we haven’t a word from the Lord, and to be humble enough before Jesus, and trusting enough of
the Father, and of his ability to provide for those who come to us for help. It’s necessary for us
to trust God enough to keep quiet, and not to speak something that is only of man, their death for
one thing, their wasting breath for another. If Satan really gets to use them they can really lead
a person off on the wrong track.
So it’s very important for delegated authorities to know that their authority comes from God and to
be prepared to seek God until they really understand his will in a certain issue. That means
delegated authorities really have to spend a lot of time in prayer. Matthew 8:9 I think says
something about that. It’s the centurion who says he can say to a servant, “Go,” and he goes, but
then in verse 9, Matthew 8:9, “For I am a man under authority,” for I am a man under authority,
“with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes,
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” But I am a man under authority, he doesn’t say, “In
authority.” I am the man under authority, I am a centurion who is under the authority of the Roman
Empire, and therefore I can say to people under me, “Go,” and they go.
Now, do you see, dear ones, that delegated authorities have no right to exercise authority unless
they themselves are under the authority of God, and unless they keep their mouth closed until Jesus
speaks to them, or the Holy Spirit reveals to them? It’s necessary for them to do that otherwise
they no longer are exercising delegated authority. This is why delegated authorities cannot be
subjective persons. They cannot be talkative opinionated people, who have lots of ideas to dish out
to everybody, and lots of good advice for anyone who wants to come along. A delegated authority has
to be a man or a woman under the restraint of the Holy Spirit knowing when to speak, and when to be
Loved ones, that’s why God believes we can trust ourselves so much to delegated authorities who are
in the body, because if they’re really delegated authorities set up by the Father they will be safe
people to listen to. If they have nothing to say from God, then they won’t say anything. So
delegated authority must know that authority comes from God and he must deny himself the right just
to speak when he wants to. Numbers 22:25 has a lesson in it that most of us have to pass through of
this experience before we are really safe as delegated authorities. Numbers 22:25, and you
remember ‘was used by God to speak because Balaam himself really was not under the control of God’s
Spirit in the way that a delegated authority has to be, and verse 25 of Numbers 22, “And when the
ass saw the angel of the Lord, she pushed against the wall, and pressed Balaam’s foot against the
wall; so he struck her again.”
Really God pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall, and he has to do that with many of us before we
can be delegated authorities. He has to lame us and bring us into a place where we really distrust
our own ideas and our opinions. A place where we distrust them so much that we walk carefully and
will not speak unless God speaks. Probably that’s what’s most necessary for us. We live in a
society where everybody is giving opinions and advice all around the place, and God wants a group of
men and women who will be restrained and will be afraid to speak unless they’re sure their speaking
You remember the old Prophets would say that, “The word of the Lord came to me…” and they would
say, “Yes this is the word of the Lord.” Even Paul would say, “Now this I say but it’s not a
command from the Lord.” And it seems to me that when we come into authority we need to be very
clear that we’re always speaking as a command from the Lord.
Now the third characteristic of delegated authorities is that they keep in constant communion with
God. Now that’s not in constant communication, but it’s in constant communion. It’s a closeness
with the Father that enables us to know what his mind is at any given moment. Now really that
requires a close understanding of God and a closeness to, and a great distance from other people.
Brothers and sisters, it’s good for us to love each other and it’s good for us to be close to each
other, but you can’t afford to be closer to anyone than you are to the Father, himself. Communion
means a closeness to God that is closer than anything you have for anybody else. And that’s the
kind of thing that you see in Jesus’ own life if you look at John 5:19 and 30. It’s incredible the
dependency that Jesus expresses that he has for the Father. John 5:19, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly,
truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father
doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise.’”
That’s pretty good, you know, isn’t it? When you think that he wouldn’t do anything that the Father
doesn’t do, and only what he sees the Father doing that he does. You might compare it with some
of our generosity with our great opinions and our great ideas, and it really humbles you, doesn’t
it? That Jesus said this that, “I can’t do anything unless I see the Father do it, and I don’t do
anything apart from the Father.” Then, brothers and sisters, you think really how we just run off
at the mouth — we really do. We just run off like a rip cord that you can’t control. And the
Father wants us to stop all that babbling and begin to get close to him, and begin to get his
opinions and his ideas.
And back to Matthew 5:30 is the same. “’I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge;
and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.’” And it’s
really good, isn’t it? It’s as if Jesus has an ear up to the Father and he’s listening, and hears,
Okay, then he speaks. Then he hears then he speaks, and it’s such a dependency compared with what
you and I often think is necessary.
Brothers and sisters, we are wild people we get a whole lot of knowledge, for instance on Sunday
evenings, or from reading books and we just feel that we’re absolutely full of knowledge. We’re
absolutely full of life the world should be making a track to our door to receive all the good
things that we can dispense to it, and some poor soul makes the mistake of coming to us and we just
swamp them. And they get everything, what they’ll need in 20 years time and what they needed five
years back, as well as a little of what they’ll need today.
But really not the simplicity, not the clear gentle life that God wants them to have, and it all
comes from this refusal really to hang upon God. Really it’s to hang upon him. And when you’re
hanging upon him then you can trust him to defend the authority. That’s a beautiful thing. When
you’re really depending on God and hearing him, and refusing to speak unless you get from communion
what he wants you to see then if people oppose your authority or reject it, then you can leave it to
him. That’s it, brothers and sisters. If others refuse your authority or reject it than you let
them err, but you do not go out and try to defend your own authority.
I think a lot of us, and I certainly have made mistakes in this way, we felt we needed to defend out
authority. No, if your authority is given by God then he will defend it. Think what we often do,
we don’t want people to go astray so far as God is willing for them to go astray. I think some of
us think we’re wiser and kinder than God, and we want to hold people back from making mistakes.
Whereas God will let them go and make as many mistakes as he allowed us to make so that we really do
come back to him by conviction. But when people reject your authority and it’s to delegated
authority then you don’t fight it, you just trust God. Watchman Nee has a good thing to say to all
of us and suppose I like reading them because it’s more of him preaching to me as well as to you,
and the poor husbands and wives too.
“I do not like to hear some husbands say to their wives, ‘I am God’s established authority,
therefore you must listen to me.’ Nor do take any pleasure in hearing the elders of the church say
to brothers and sisters, ‘I am God’s appointed authority.’ Never try to set up your own authority.
If God chooses, you receive it with humility. If God does not call you, why should you strive?
And it’s just good and I remember I’ve shared with some of you before, that my wife and I never had
trouble with authority and submission in our marriage until we went to a spirit filled meeting.
That’s what it was called, and I’m not sure that it was. But it was a spirit filled meeting and one
brother began to minister the authority of husbands over wives, and he ministered it in a way no one
certain terms, probably the problem was he didn’t minister it. He just taught it and preached it,
and that was the first time we had any difficulty in our relationship.
Now it seems to me that when you make the thing an object of conscience statement, then it can’t
come about naturally, and spiritually. It seems, brothers and sisters, that authorities and
delegated authorities, and those who are subject to them is a beautiful miraculous creation of the
Father that comes about beautifully, and naturally, and easily, and gently. The moment you have to
hammer it home to each other, it’s all lost anyway. So it seems there’s never a place for trying
to defend your own authority, there is a place as we’ll see in Moses life for exhorting people to
respond to God, but there’s never a place for defending your own.
Now that comes out really in Moses own life several times. Maybe you’d like to look at just one of
them where he really just shows the old graciousness. You get it in Numbers 16, and you remember
there was just an outright rebellion there of Korah and the others against Moses authority. And
it’s Numbers 16:4 and 5, and maybe you could see in verse 3 the approach, “And they assembled
themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, ‘You have gone too far! For
all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; why then do you exalt
yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’”
It’s just an outright challenge to Moses authority, “When Moses heard it, he fell on his face.”
That’s the graciousness of a delegated authority. You fall on your face before the Father, “And he
said to Korah and all his company, ‘In the morning the Lord will show who is his, and who is holy,
and will cause him to come near to him; him whom he will choose he will cause to come near to him.”
And then in verse 6 and 7, “Do this: take censers, Korah and all his company; put fire in them and
put incense upon them before the Lord tomorrow, and the man whom the Lord chooses shall be the holy
one.” And then he says, “You have gone too far, sons of Levi!” And you know, you think of the old
man just saying, “You have gone too far,” but he didn’t rebuke them himself. He said, “No, you seek
Now it seems, brothers and sisters, whether it’s dad’s and mum’s, or whether it’s you and your
responsibility towards a younger Christian, or whether it’s me and responsibility for you or the
elders or the house leaders, it seems that always the delegated authority trusts the Father to
defend the authority that he’s set up. What’s the basis for delegated authorities? Well, you’ll
find it in what has always been to me a rather baffling passage but now it just makes sense.
Numbers 17:1-11, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the people of Israel, and get from them rods,
one for each father’s house, from all their leaders according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods.
Write each man’s name upon his rod, and write Aaron’s name upon the rod of Levi. For there shall
be one rod for the head of each father’s house. Then you shall deposit them in the tent of meeting
before the testimony, where I meet with you.
And the rod of the man whom I choose shall sprout; thus I will make to cease from me the murmurings
of the people of Israel, which they murmur against you. Moses spoke to the people of Israel; and
all their leaders gave him rods, one for each leader, according to their father’s houses, twelve
rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses deposited the rods before the Lord in
the tent of the testimony. And on the morrow Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold,
the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds, and produced blossoms, and
it bore ripe almonds.
Then Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord to all the people of Israel; and they
looked, and each man took his rod. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Put back the rod of Aaron before
the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels. That you may make an end of their murmurings
against me, lest they die.’ Thus did Moses; as the Lord commanded him, so he did.”
It’s really good, dear ones, because the rod when it was cut from the tree was dead, and it died
first, and then it was the Father that made it come to life again. Probably that’s the basic
qualification for delegated authorities. That we really die to our own need to be an authority, and
we die to our own right to be anything at all, and to be anybody in anybody’s eyes, and we are
really ready to be nothing before the Father. Really ready to be a failure, really ready for
everybody to tell us what to do, and when we really come into that Baptism of Jesus’ death then God
makes life blossom from us.
I’ve shared it with some of the brothers and sisters here before who have come to the body with many
great talents, and with many great ideas for doing things for the Father. It’s so hard for God to
dry up all our own ideas, and to dry up all our own abilities, and our own talent, and then for him
to make our rod blossom in his own way. Really that’s what’s to happen, brothers and sisters.
You know, you are all great people, you really are, and you have lots of ability, and lots of
talents but do you see that the subtle arrangement of authority and submission that the Holy Spirit
wants to set up among us must be on the basis of what he gives to each of us? It cannot be because
Dave has artistic ability, or Kim has real ability with television. It cannot be because Mark knows
books, or because Scott understands leather, or because John can sell, or because Lanny can design.
It can’t be on the basis of the things that we can do. It has to be a setting up of God’s own
authority by bringing about a life of authority from us after we’ve allowed our own to die.
Really that death and resurrection is the basis of God’s authority. That kind of authority then is
a beautiful and harmonies thing that people don’t fight against, and probably the deepest truth is
this, brothers and sisters, wait until God sets up your authority. Wait and be patient until he
sets up his delegated authorities to you, and don’t rush it, and don’t be in hast to get into a
position of responsibility fast, but let God do it. Then those of us who are in delegated
authority positions, dear ones, I think we have to stay close to the Father. We have to be
suspicious of our own ideas and our own opinions and really allow him to bring his authority on us.
I think I should stop, I don’t know whether you have questions for this.
I think I heard you that you were asking is delegated authority or setting up authority something
that, is once and for all or can come and go?
Yes, that’s why it’s important that you are able to question — it’s as long as we remain in
communion of the Father. It’s only as long as we remain in communion with the Father. It seems to
that it can go, it can go once we get out of the position with God, the tragedy probably is that
many of us who lose our position with God keep trying to build it, keep trying to justify that
authority. That’s why it’s vital for delegated authority to know when they’re out of touch with the
Father, knowing it is hard.
It seems to me it’s set up by God as long as we are in communion with him.
Can you stop being a delegated authority?
That’s good. A few probably heard just a little better than I did. If you’re ministering to a
person, and if God gives you something to say to them, then if he doesn’t give you something to say
for a couple of months, does that mean you’re no longer a delegated authority to that person? Yes,
it’s better to think of it that way, than to think of it otherwise. It’s better to see that you’re
an authority while you’re being used by God, and while his Spirit anoints you. It’s a wee bit like
the principle, you kind of attend here at church, how do you become a member of campus church? You
see, you’re a member by participating, if you don’t participate there’s no point in having your name
on some roll on somebody’s list, and it seems that it’s exactly like the Father’s authority.
Then I don’t mean I don’t have the authority anymore but I would feel that the delegated authority
would always be in the position when there counseling with another person where their listening for
Jesus voice. I [Inaudible 0:30:24.1], and so it seems to me there’s nothing a delegated authority
of an attitude, “Well I can’t give anything to this person.” Because that’s based on a total
misconception of the person forgetting that Jesus is the one who wants to speak to the counseled not
me. The basis of delegated authority would seem to be a very humble dependant on Jesus.
Is there people with good authority and others with bad authority?
Brother says, “If you’re under authority, if you’re under someone’s authority and they are not in
close communion with God then does that mean that it’s not a good authority to be under. It seems
obviously, brother, that we cannot choose too much our authorities as far as the president is
concerned or the police are concerned, but you’re right, we can choose our authority spiritually.
It seems to me we ought to listen to the Holy Spirit to guide us. I think many of us need to make
sure we are under the spiritual authority of the Holy Spirit. He wants to speak to us spiritually.
Another, it seems to me, we have no choice about our, well we have a choice, we actually vote but we
have little choice about the government and God says in that case the heart of the king is in the
hands of Lord. And God will overrule so that we are never forced into a position where we cannot
obey him. If we ever are forced into that position then we ought to disobey the authority.
Brother brings up the point, what about the submission to the government authorities for the people
who are smuggling Bibles into Russia? I know no answer. I think it’s a strict one. I don’t want
to go to town on it, but I’m unhappy, I think I’m unhappy myself, but can anyone give a pro? Don.
What about the authority of the Word of God? Could you use that?
I see, so unless they’re going in on Acts 5:29, where the high priest ordered them not to speak
about Jesus but the disciples said, “We must obey God rather than men.” Brothers and sisters, you
know the smuggling of Bibles is made necessary because of our prayers to our brothers and sisters in
Russia. There are few of us upon our knees praying for them each day.
That’s what makes you feel difficult brother, because for you to say anything about brother Andrew
or about the other brothers who are smuggling the Bibles because we have been so pitiful ourselves.
Undoubtedly that is what the Father wants, the Father wants us to be interceding to Russia and China
so that the hearts will open and receive the light through the Word of God.
That’s the way we tell God about mission needs, we intercede it. God has miraculously opened the
way, and I think it’s because of our lack of time in prayer, brothers and sisters. Brother, that’s
why I feel God wants us to be a deeper body than maybe we have seen, perhaps before him in missions.
It is a question of breaking down the barriers by the power of prayer, and that means obedience,
pure obedience . It seems that God is driving us towards China and Russia and we’re only going to
get in there by the power of prayer. And it seems, brother, that that’s needed. In other words,
the smuggling of Bibles seems to be purely a reliance on God with prayer.
Brothers and sisters, though maybe it’s important to see here. That’s where the difference between
submission and subjection comes in, probably it would best answer this to say that that is where
submission is absolute and obedience is relative. So we would be saying that that counts as
obedience is relative, it’s relative to God’s commands. Brother. the problem is how many of us have
been directly commanded by God to smuggle Bibles. That’s the crux of the matter.
It’s dangerous where a thing like that becomes a popular thing to do. What are you going to do this
summer? Oh, smuggle Bibles into Russia. Well that’s not a popular thing. It seems to me brother
Andrew was on his knees in nights of prayer before he received that command from God.
Unfortunately, brother, there may be many who are doing it not from authority. Our sister asks is
there any way in which an authority could forfeit their right to exercise authority over you? You
know that from what we’ve studied in the Bible, that’s a dangerous trend to take. It seems that God
has put men under authorities that were very disobedient to him.
In the case of David, he was submissive to Saul and called him the Lord’s anointed even though Saul
was out to kill him, and was really disobeying God. He had already virtually lost the throne
because he was disobedient to God. So it seems that it is always right to submit to authority
whatever they’re like until it comes to the point where they tell you to do something against God’s
will of course. Especially if it is illegal. Then we read in Acts 5:29 about obeying God rather
than man. But I’m sure it’s always dangerous with our mums and dads to say, “Well my father is an
alcoholic so he has no right to have authority over me.”
Now it seems I have trickier things to see when it comes to the point of God telling you to go to
the mission field, or go to a school get a university degree. Especially when your mom and dad
didn’t want to agree. You know that you should submit anyway. There must come a time in your life
when you again have to obey God unconditionally.
Dear ones, I’m not comfortable trying to speak this way. Finally the Holy Spirit must speak to each
one of individually. Because what I found is, if a brother or sister participates in authority,
many others come under bondage to his opinions. And so these are only directions and guides you
have to take to God in prayer. Marlene just push me again. We do not belong to this world.
What does it mean then to not be conformed to this world? How can we submit to those ‘bad’
authorities over us?
So Marlene is just purposing do not be conformed to this world but submit to those in authority
under you. I would suggest that they aren’t in absolute contradiction. You refuse to be conformed
to the image of this world whenever you have to obey God rather than men. That’s how you transform
any situation. Now if ever you fail to do that, Marlene, it seems to me then you would begin to be
conformed to the image of this world. I suppose, brothers and sisters, that I am in great
difficulty with many of you who really think there are miserable things in the laws. I have great
difficulty seeing that any of us are forced to disobey God in our country.
Now there are many friends and governments that we can see are hideous. We can see in many ways in
which the government is only bad, and the men are hypocrites, and dishonest. But the system itself
and a system of law and regarding law as what Luther says, “It was the power of the source to hold
back sin and hold back the power of the sword while you, receiving the grace of God, get working.
Then we should respect that law and those who would the dispensers of it – not causing them to
defend it but to pray for them realizing that God can move in their hearts as he sees fit. And
that’s why I think Luther’s attention is so good, because he makes a clear decision between the
power of the sword and the power of the spirit. He points out that the power of the sword is the
power of law and it’s an expression of the preserving grace of God. And the power of the spirit is
through the church and through love, and it is the redeeming grace of God.
So you can see how that’s important for a Christian leader, at one time, in the body exercising
spiritual stuff and therefore should never defend his power. Then, in another place, he is
exercising the authority of law and order and it is his responsibility to defend law and order.
I’m sure that’s important — should you point out God truth? I had a few times even referred to it
but the problem is Moses did see that there was a place for exhorting people, not for defending his
own authority but for exhorting them to find out what God wanted him to do.
Is there no place for using Scripture to help the leader to see the light?
No, it seems to me if your spirit is right and your spirit is not one of defending your own
authority, you can in love and humility point to your verse. Brothers and sisters, the whole thing
is the spirit. It is all the spirit in which we exercise authority and submission to each other.
If we’re right with Jesus then all the rest falls right. If we’re wrong with Jesus, it doesn’t
matter how it has happened but we’re always going to be in the wrong. But I would suggest to you
that I’d wear most things out in the world now we have no one to it seems to me in the year 2000,
and we have 20, 25 years and we should all be out in the world every moment and you see that for a
kick start you make a very close relationship amongst us all, and a very real sense of what is God’s
authority and that it isn’t the man’s authority or woman’s authority. But, dear ones, there needs
to be a great sense of understanding. Jim and I must think of some of our transatlantic telephone
conversations and he asks me a question and you haven’t a long time speech of sermons because it’s
possible and you give an answer and it goes, “And I know he’ll act on it whatever,” and then if
there is a mistake it comes back to me. But there needs to be that kind of relationship because
we’ll be making many decisions and find ourselves in tight situations. It won’t just be another
finding out how to get somebody back from Africa but we are going to have work together in a spirit
of love and trust.