“For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”” (Luke 7:8, NKJV)
We all encounter authority every day. Whether it is the rules of the road as we drive, or the authority under which medications are dispensed, there are countless ways we tacitly accept living under authority. Yet, in matters of faith, too often we think we are free to do whatever we feel is right. We must learn to acknowledge and yield to the authority of Jesus Christ in every part of our lives. He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). The authority of Jesus, which is so cavalierly rejected by many, was not taken for granted by the Roman centurion in today’s passage. He understood authority, both serving under it and exercising it. He trusted the power of Jesus to heal his servant because he believed Jesus had authority over distance and disease. When we believe Jesus has authority over us, it changes how we think and act in every area of our lives. Because He has supreme authority over us, Jesus deserves more than lip service from us. Let us be so committed to the authority of Christ that whatever His word says, we believe it and do it. Without hesitation or doubt, fully trusting He will fulfill His will, we follow Him. Submissive obedience to His word is the identifying mark of respecting the authority of Jesus.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1–3, NKJV)
Dr. Leonard Sax, practicing physician and author of “The Collapse of Parenting,” wrote in the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 17, 2015), “Kids are not born knowing how to be respectful. They have to be taught.” He tells of his patient Kyle, who “was absorbed in a videogame on his cellphone, so I asked his mom, ‘How long has Kyle had a stomach ache?’ Mom said, ‘I’m thinking it’s been about two days.’ Then Kyle replied, ‘Shut up, mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And he gave a snorty laugh, without looking up from his videogame. Kyle is 10 years old.” One source of such disrespect comes from devaluing parents. According to Dr. Sax, “America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers, and one another. They learn it from television, even on the Disney Channel, where parents are portrayed as clueless, out-of-touch or absent. They learn it from celebrities or the Internet. They learn it from social media. They teach it to one another. They wear T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like ‘I’m not shy. I just don’t like you.’” Parents, train your children to respect you by being respectful to one another, and to others. Train them to honor you by placing value on God, on faith, and on every human being. Children can only be respectful by learning it. So, be respectable – especially when the culture does not value it – or you.
20 “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed. (Acts 4:20–22, NKJV)
The apostles Peter and John had been arrested for preaching “in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). By the power of Christ they had healed a man who was over 40-years-old and lame from birth (Acts 3:1-10). This powerful miracle confirmed the genuineness of their message of salvation in Jesus. When pressured by the Jewish council “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus,” the two apostles dramatically affirmed they would continue to speak what they had seen and heard (Acts 4:17-19). The people of Jerusalem glorified God over the man’s healing, and many became Christians (Acts 4:4). Their leaders knew a miracle had happened, yet they threatened the apostles in an attempt to silence them (Acts 4:14-18). These two opposing reactions show two contrasting conditions of heart toward the truth of the gospel. Do you want the truth, even when it means you will have to change to be right with God? Or, do you fight against the truth? (Do you really think you will win that fight? You won’t.) Now is the time to yield to God, believe His gospel, and obey His will (Matt. 7:21).
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20–21, NKJV)
It is essential that the church honors God for the abundant “power that works in us.” Notably, it is “in the church by Christ Jesus” that God’s measureless power is glorified. So, the church is essential. It is essential for the church to know how to give God honor and glory. The church honors God being faithful to obey His will. You see, Jesus died for His church to sanctify it, so it will not have “spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26-27). God’s will is our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Therefore, we must love God and not the world (1 John 2:15-17). When Christians defy the will of God and love the world, Christ is shamed and God is dishonored. The church must do more than say it honors God in Christ. Christians must reflect honor for God by how we live. This is done by obeying Him faithfully. This is how to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Such obedience is when and how God’s power works in us (Philippians 2:13). Trust God’s power. Live by faith, obeying Him “with fear and trembling.” He will work in you mightily, and take you home to eternal glory.
Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:10, NKJV)
Love obeys God’s law. By doing so it fulfills law. It is indeed futile to try to separate our obedience to God’s law and our love for Him and for our neighbors. Obeying God’s commands grows out of loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Loving your neighbor means loving him as you love yourself (Mark 12:31). Just as we do not seek to harm ourselves, love does no harm to its neighbor. Love does not commit adultery, does not murder, does not steal, does not bear false witness, does not covet, or do anything else that harms another person (Romans 13:8-9). Love actively does good instead of evil. Obeying the will of God from the heart is love in action (Romans 6:17; 1 John 3:17-18). Love is not set in contrast to obeying the law of God; It is not one or the other. Instead, love actively fulfills (accomplishes, obeys) the law of God.
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:22–25, NKJV)
This passage identifies the word of God and describes what it does. First, the word of God is “the truth” (v. 22). The word of God is not a truth among many other truths. It is the truth, it is exclusive, accurate and reliable because is the word of God, not the word of men (1 Thessalonians 2:13). The truth of God purifies the soul when it is obeyed (v. 22; Hebrews 5:9). Our souls cannot be purified unless we obey the truth. Next, the word of God is the seed that produces the new birth (v. 23). The sinner is “born again” when this seed is planted in the heart and obeyed from the heart (Luke 8:11, 15). Those who believe sinners are born again without obedience must ignore this verse (John 3:3, 5). The word of God is powerful, incorruptible and “endures forever” (v. 23, 25). The first-century gospel will do its work in this century. We must receive and obey the truth – the incorruptible word – to be purified of sins and to truly love one another (John 8:31-32; 13:34-35).
If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:15, NKJV)
It’s easy to love a child in a manger. But, on this day when the religious world long ago decided to have a holy day in honor of the birth of Jesus (a holiday, by the way, never commanded in the Scriptures and never celebrated by the New Testament church), the Child who was given to the world challenges the world with these words spoken by Him over 30 years after He was in the manger. Keeping the commands of Jesus is the essence of loving Him, because it puts His will and His purposes before our own. His will is superior to ours, and so, in faith we obey His word instead of our own wisdom and wishes. Love Jesus by keeping His commands. Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:21). That is the love we must have for Jesus every day.