Jesus has Consummate Authority
In studying the life, person, and mission of Jesus of Nazareth, one must consider Jesus' authority. I suggest to you that Jesus has complete and total authority, we call this consummate authority. The matter of Jesus' replete authority is characteristic of his teaching and mannerism. Let us visit Jesus' first recorded miracle (Jn. 2: 1-11). Jesus' power or authority over nature is seen in the fact of turning the water into "wine." Please consider the specific statement made by Jesus' mother, which is indicative of Jesus' total authority:
"His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it" (Jn. 2: 5).
Jesus is presented as God's spokesman to man, expressing the final will of the Father for man (Heb. 1: 1, 2). Jesus' words are life imparting and resonate with authority (Jn. 6: 63, 12: 48). The Christian must abide in Jesus' teaching or forfeit God (2 Jn. 9-11). It was Jesus who said, " all power (authority, dm) is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28: 18). Involved in total authority and power is the matter of legislative, executive, and judicial right. Jesus is the lawgiver; responsible of its implementation; and it is He who shall be the judge of all men (Gal. 6: 2; Jn. 14-16; Jn. 5: 22). The Great Commission that Jesus issued rests on Jesus' total authority (Matt. 28: 18ff.). Since Jesus' authority is complete, there is no place for man acting in the areas of primary legislation, execution, and judgment. For this reason, the scriptures consistently condemn man when he acts in these areas only belonging to Jesus (Matt. 7: 21-23; 2 Jn. 9-11).
Some are heard saying, "We agree that Jesus has consummate authority." However, they then contend for and practice matters that are altogether inconsistent with their claim. Let us now drive home the point of Jesus' complete authority by noticing different instances of man's authority. Keep in mind, everybody recognizes some authority in their life, whether they realize it or not.
The authority of the atheist. It is apparent to even the limited observer that there is a strong movement working toward America becoming an atheistic state. These atheists are attacking the basic morals, climate, and constitution of our Great Nation. They scoff at the idea of authority and, yet, these people have authority. Their authority is, " we walk by sight" (cp. 2 Cor. 5: 7). If they cannot see it, they do not believe it." In many areas, though, they accept the reality of a matter based on the evidence of its unseen actuality. I have asked atheists if they believe they have a brain. "Do not be silly, I certainly do!" When asked how they know that they have a brain since they have not seen it, their reply has been, "I see evidence of my brain, which evidence could only exist if I had a brain." Creation declares the presence of a Creator (cp. Ps. 19: 1). There are many matters that are invisible, but their reality is demonstrated by evidence. So it is with God.
The hedonist. The authority of the hedonist is, "If it feels good, do it." Needless to say, we are living in the age of hedonism. I believe that relatively little is being said about the enormous spread of Aids because of the influence of hedonism. Take away the desire for pleasure and pleasure being the ultimate goal of these people and hedonism would cease to exist. When questioned about the authority for their way of life the reply is, "We believe life is for the fulfillment of man's pleasure." Hence, pleasure is the authority for hedonism.
Patriotism. Do not misunderstand me, the Christian is to respect and obey civil government, to the extent that they can (I Pet. 2: 13, Acts 5: 29). However, some use civil government as their criterion or authority for religious belief and practice. I recall having a sermon that pointed out homosexuality is a sin and an elder taking me aside later and telling me, "Don, you cannot continue to publicly preach such." When I asked why not his reply was that, "The law of the land does not allow such discrimination." It must be recalled that when there was a conflict with God's direct will and the "law of the land," the word continued to be preached (see context of Acts 5: 29). The Christian is patriotic, but up to a point and patriotism must not be the sole motivation or authority for the Christian.
Humanitarianism. I recall when humanism was first openly introduced in textbooks in America. "The good of man must be the means used to determine a matter," we are told. We are even told that if a matter is for the good of man such overrides morals issues. "If telling the truth hurts another, it is wrong to tell the truth, a lie is not only justified but required," Doctor Laura says. It has gotten so bad that churches are heard telling the preacher, "We do not want preaching that makes people feel bad or that exposes their sin, we want people to feel good!" Hence, humanism and humanitarianism is the standard of authority for these people.
The popularity slaves. We are told that prostitution is on the rise in America. The surprise has been that much of the increase is seen in young girls from middle income families. "These teenagers (some as young as nine, dm) are selling their bodies for designer clothing," they report. It is evident that there is an obsession with popularity. "I cannot preach the truth and maintain my popularity," I have actually had some preachers without and within the church of Christ to say to me. If it promotes or results in popularity, the means is justified, according to these people. Paul's authority was certainly not popularity:
"For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. 1: 10).
If my church teaches it, then I must accept it. Beloved, as seen, Jesus has all authority. Jesus' authority is "in heaven and earth" (Matt. 28: 18). No church, then, has the right to claim primary authority in religious matters. Jesus made the laws, implemented them, and shall use them in the judgment of all men. There is no place for the church in the matter of authority. The true church is to submit to her head, Jesus (Eph. 1: 22, 23). "I used to be opposed to a homosexual lifestyle, but my church now says such is permissible and I must accept their ruling" is utterly ridiculous. God's word, Jesus' teaching, says homosexuality is wrong and it matters not what any group or conclave of men say (Rom. 1: 26-28).
I must be faithful to the way I was raised. It is strange to me that when some have the proper raising and religious training, they cannot wait to get away from it. However, when they have been incorrectly taught and instructed in matters religious, they must be faithful to the way they were raised. The truth of the matter is ancestry must not be used as primary authority. Ancestry religion was the main problem with the Jewish Nation of Jesus' day (cp. Mk. 7). Instead of thinking, "I must remember and provide an thus-saith-my-father for a religious belief," people should respond with a book, chapter, and verse (I Thes. 5: 21, I Pet. 4: 11).
Antinomianism as the authority. Antinomianism is simply a system of lawlessness. The "without law" mentality is really in vogue today. Those who use antinomianism as their authority do not approve of such an article as the one you are reading. "It is legalism," they would say, "We believe in grace only." Beloved, the Christian is not justified by works of law keeping; however, conformity to God's law as one looks to God's grace is absolutely required (Heb. 5: 8, 9).
There are many other standards of authority that are common today. Catholicism, emotionalism, and the positive mental attitude movement, ad infinitum all stand in the way of acquiescing to Jesus' authority.
Dare man place any authority over and in the place of Jesus' consummate authority! Inherit in the idea of biblical authority is power (exousia). Man, no man, has power and efficacy as does Jesus. Jesus shed his blood for the remission of sins, not man (Matt. 26: 28). Jesus is the mediator between God and man, not man (I Tim. 2: 5). Jesus and only Jesus lived a sinless life (Heb. 4: 15). Consider Paul's cogent language regarding Jesus:
"5: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9: Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11: And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phili. 2).
Concerned reader, the next time a religious question or issue comes up, ask yourself what does the "doctrine of Christ" say. Remember that what the apostles taught constitute the "commandments of the Lord" (I Cor. 14: 37). Give diligence ("study," KJV) to show yourself approved, handling aright the word of God (2 Tim. 2: 15). We all must heed the advice of Mary: " Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it" (Jn. 2: 5).