Tag Archives: authority

“The holiness, love, compassion, care, and authority of Christ towards His church” by John Owen

“The especial design of the rule of the church in its government is to represent the holiness of Christ, love of Christ, compassion of Christ, care of Christ, and authority of Christ towards His church.

This is the great end of rule in the church, and of all the discipline which is to be exercised by virtue thereof.

Whilst this is not attended unto, when the officers and rulers of the church do not endeavour, in all the actings of their power and office, to set forth these virtues of Christ, to exemplify that impression of them which He hath left in His laws and rule, with the divine testimonies which He gave of them in His own person, they utterly deviate from the principal end of all rule in the church.

For men to act herein in a way of domination, with a visible elation of mind and spirit above their brethren; with anger, wrath, and passion; by rules, order, and laws of their own devising, without the least consideration of what the Lord Christ requires, and what is the frame of His heart towards all His disciples,—is to reflect the highest dishonour imaginable upon Christ Himself.

He who comes into the courts of the king in Westminster Hall, when filled with judges, grave, learned, and righteous, must ordinarily be allowed to judge of the king himself, his wisdom, justice, moderation, and clemency, by the law which they proceed upon and their manner of the administration of it.

But God forbid that Christians should make a judgment concerning the holiness, wisdom, love, and compassion of Christ by the representation which, as is pretended, is made of Him and them in some courts wherein church rule and discipline is administered!

When any had offended of old, their censure by the church was called the bewailing of them, (2 Cor. 12:21); and that because of the sorrow, pity, and compassion whereby, in that censure, they evidenced the compassion of the Lord Christ towards the souls of sinners.

This is scarce answered by those pecuniary mulcts and other penalties, which, with indignation and contempt, are inflicted on such as are made offenders, whether they will or no.

Certainly, those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and have a due honour for the gospel, will, at one time or another, begin to think meet that this stain of our religion should be washed away.

The rule and law of the exercise of power in the elders of the church is the holy Scripture only.

The Lord Christ is the only lawgiver of the church; all His laws unto this end are recorded in the Scripture; no other law is effectual, can oblige or operate upon the objects or unto the ends of church-rule.

If the church make a thousand rules, or canons, or laws for government, neither any of them, nor all of them in general, have any the least power to oblige men unto obedience or compliance with them, but only so far as virtually or materially they contain what is of the law of Christ, and derive force from thence: as the judges in our courts of justice are bound to judge and determine in all cases out of and according to the law of the land; and when they do not, their sentence is of no validity, but may and ought to be reversed.

But if, wilfully or of choice, they should introduce laws or rules not legally established in this nation, judging according unto them, it would render them highly criminal and punishable.

It is no otherwise in the kingdom of Christ and the rule thereof. It is by His law alone that rule is to be exercised in it. There is nothing left unto the elders of the church but the application of his laws and the general rules of them unto particular cases and occasions.

To make, to bring, to execute, any other rules, laws, or canons, in the government of his church, is to usurp on His kingly dominion.”

–John Owen, “The True Nature of a Gospel Church,” The Works of John Owen, Volume 16 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1689/1968), 16: 135-136.

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“The Lofty Claim” by John Piper

“‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’ (Matthew 28:18) This I call The Lofty Claim. Jesus claims that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him.

He has died for sin, to triumph over guilt and condemnation. He has been raised from the dead to triumph over suffering and death. And in triumphing over guilt and condemnation and over suffering and death, He has also triumphed over Satan who can only destroy us with the guilt of sin and torment us with suffering and death.

And because Jesus has triumphed so gloriously over guilt and condemnation and suffering and death and Satan, therefore ‘God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Philippians 2:9–11). Which is just another way of saying: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Him].’

All authority.

  • He has authority over Satan and all demons, over all angels—good and evil;
  • authority over the natural universe, natural objects and laws and forces: stars, galaxies, planets, meteorites;
  • authority over all weather systems: winds, rains, lightning, thunder, hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, typhoons, cyclones;
  • authority over all their effects: tidal waves, floods, fires;
  • authority over all molecular and atomic reality: atoms, electrons, protons, neutrons, undiscovered subatomic particles, quantum physics, genetic structures, DNA, chromosomes;
  • authority over all plants and animals great and small: whales and redwoods, giant squid and giant oaks, all fish, all wild beasts, all invisible animals and plants: bacteria, viruses, parasites, germs;
  • authority over all the parts and functions of the human body: every beat of the heart, every breath of the diaphragm, every electrical jump across a million synapses in our brains;
  • authority over all nations and governments: congresses and legislatures and presidents and kings and premiers and courts;
  • authority over all armies and weapons and bombs and terrorists;
  • authority over all industry and business and finance and currency;
  • authority over all entertainment and amusement and leisure and media;
  • authority over all education and research and science and discovery;
  • authority over all crime and violence; over all families and neighborhoods;
  • and authority over the church, and over every soul and every moment of every life that has been or ever will be lived.

There is nothing in heaven or on earth over which Jesus does not have authority, that is, does not have the right and the power do with as He pleases. Both the right and the power.

The scope and the magnitude of the authority of Jesus is infinite, because Jesus is one with God the Father. The Father has given him all authority not because the Father can give up being God, but because Jesus is God.

And when deity shares infinite authority with deity, He neither loses nor gains anything, but remains infinitely full and triumphant and all-sufficient.

This is the lofty claim. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has all authority in heaven and on earth, because our Lord Jesus is God.”

–John Piper, “The Lofty Claim, the Last Command, the Loving Comfort,” Sermons from John Piper (1990–1999) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007), 1.

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“We have Christ, and having Him, we have all” by J.C. Ryle

“Last of all, if it be right to ‘hold fast that which is good,’ (1 Thess. 5:21) let us make sure that we have each laid hold personally upon Christ’s truth for ourselves.

It will not save us to know all controversies and to be able to detect everything which is false. Head knowledge will never bring us to heaven. It will not save us to be able to argue and reason with Roman Catholics or to detect the errors of the Popes’ Bulls.

Let us see that we each lay hold upon Jesus Christ for ourselves, by our own personal faith.

Let us see to it that we each flee for refuge, and lay hold upon the hope set before us in His glorious Gospel.

Let us do this, and all shall be well with us, whatever else may go ill.

Let us do this, and then all things are ours.

The church may fail.
The state may go to ruin.
The foundations of all establishments may be shaken.
The enemies of truth may for a season prevail.

But as for us, all shall be well. We shall have in this world peace, and in the world which is to come, life everlasting; for we shall have Christ, and having Him, we have all.

This is real ‘good,’ lasting good, good in sickness, good in health, good in life, good in death, good in time, and good in eternity.

All other things are but uncertain.
They all wear out.
They fade.
They droop.
They wither.
They decay.

The longer we have them the more worthless we find them, and the more satisfied we become, that everything here below is ‘vanity and vexation of spirit.’

But as for hope in Christ, that is always good. The longer we use it the better it seems. The more we wear it in our hearts the brighter it will look.

It is good when we first have it.
It is better far when we grow older.
It is better still in the day of trial, and the hour of death.

And it will prove best of all in the day of judgment.”

–J.C. Ryle, Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Points in Religion (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1874/2016), 60-61.

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“Let us never make ministers Popes” by J.C. Ryle

“If a man’s religion hangs on ministers, whoever they may be, and not on the Word of God, it hangs on a broken reed.

Let us never make ministers Popes.

Let us follow them so far as they follow Christ, but not a hair’s breadth further.

Let us believe whatever they can show us out of the Bible, but not a single word more (Acts 17:11-12; 1 Thess. 5:21).”

–J.C. Ryle, Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Points in Religion (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1874/2016), 55.

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“The authority of Jesus” by Thomas Schreiner

“Jesus’ authority pervades Mark’s Gospel. He calls disciples to follow Him (1:16-20), casts out demons with a word, declares that the paralytic is forgiven of his sins (2:1-12), identifies Himself as the end-time bridegroom (2:19-20), claims to be the Lord of the Sabbath (2:23-28), says that those who do God’s will are part of His family (3:31-35), stills a storm with His words (4:35-41), sends others out to preach the kingdom (6:7-13), feeds crowds of five thousand and four thousand (6:30-44; 8:1-10), functions as the interpreter of the law (7:1-23), demands that people follow Him (1:17; 2:14; 8:34; 10:21), warns that those who are ashamed of Him and His words will be punished (8:38), teaches that children should be received in His name (9:37), cleanses the temple (11:15-17), identifies Himself as the last and the most important of God’s messengers (12:1-12), triumphs in controversy with religious leaders (11:27-12:44), predicts the destruction of the temple (13:1-37), calls on His disciples to bear witness to Him before governmental authorities (13:9), claims to be the Son of God (14:61-62), and, most important of all, is raised from the dead (16:1-8).”

–Thomas Schreiner, The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2013), 461.

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