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A few months ago, I had the privilege of watching my brother commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force. It was a fascinating experience. After three months of rigorous training, my brother’s status changed from “enlisted” to “commissioned” with the pinning on of gold bars. Those gold bars symbolize his achievements as well as his new-found responsibilities. As an officer, my brother is now looked up to as a leader — responsible to make sure the orders he receives from his superiors are carried out by the men under his command. This “chain of command” that holds together this nation’s military is found in similar forms throughout our society. 

Whether you are a homemaker, deliver newspapers, work for a small business, or an international corporation, there is an authority structure in place that determines who you report to and what you can ask (or demand) of others. In the Christian life, the ultimate authority to whom we report is the God of the Bible (Deut. 10:12–13). Sure, we are to respect and obey those in our civil government, our workplaces, and homes, but even they are under the oversight and governance of Scripture. 

In the gospel according to Matthew, we see that Jesus’ authority comes from God the Father. He was born a king (2:2); He understood where His allegiance lay (4:10; 6:24), and by His words and actions brought healing to those who were sick and blind (see chap. 8–9). His teaching was unlike anything the people had ever heard (7:28–29). What was so astonishing about Jesus’ teaching? The very fact that His infallible words were coming from the heart and mind of God the Father (see John 1:14; 8:26), not some fallible teacher of antiquity. Jesus had the words of life and was using them to bring about restoration in a hurting world. This was in contrast to the words from the scribes — words that were empty and powerless, exposing the evil motives of their hearts (Matt. 15:7–9, 11). Deep down they knew Jesus was a threat to their own authority; as a result, they did everything they could to kill Him. 

Jesus came to earth to do the will of His Father in heaven (Matt. 26:39). He had no secret agenda of His own and came for one purpose alone: to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). He defeated death and sin on the cross by offering Himself as a sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God, but not before he first lived a life that met every single requirement of God’s law. By fulfilling God’s requirement of perfect obedience, the curse of the fall brought about by Adam’s first sin in the garden of Eden was undone (Rom. 5:12–21). Now death no longer reigns. Christ by His death and resurrection shows His ultimate authority over all things. As a result, sinners like you and me can now be clothed in Christ’s righteousness through faith in Him and can be rest assured that just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too will be raised from the dead and sit with Him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). 

As I train for ministry in the church of God, I pray God would teach me how to hold fast to the teaching that “the word of God is living and active…piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow” (Heb. 4:12). The power and authority of God to save sinners is in His Word, not in the sharing of my own opinions or use of clever presentation techniques. If you want sin’s dominion in your life to cease, reconciliation in broken relationships, or wisdom in making difficult decisions, God’s Word must be allowed to have its way in your life. It may be a painful process, but “let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23). 

You may be familiar with the song “Trust and Obey.” It is a fairly simple song to sing, but quite difficult to practice day in and day out. The chorus of the song is this: “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” As Christians we must recognize King Jesus as our ultimate commander-in-chief and obey His commands. He is our authority, and we are His loyal servants. As servants of Christ, we don’t need gold bars on our shoulders; we need towels tied around our waists (John 13:4). We don’t need an official commissioning ceremony. We received our commission two thousand years ago by our Lord Jesus who told us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18–20). We would do well to remember the work Jesus modeled and called His followers to — the washing of other people’s feet. Do you believe that the world can be changed by such lowly, simple, yet powerful means? The humble serving of others coupled with the words of Christ’s Gospel are how we are to bring about revival in our land. I know it sounds simple. I guess that is why we must trust…and obey. 

The Cost of Discipleship

Jesus Stills the Storm

Keep Reading The Three Forms of Unity

From the April 2008 Issue
Apr 2008 Issue