Archive for the Authority Category

Authority (8)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee on September 20, 2013 by nmpreach

In an (all be it late) attempt to forego beating a dead horse, this is the last post for awhile on authority.  Watchman Nee always makes me think.  And seeing sin as an authority issue is helpful for me.  I hope it has been for you as well.

If need be, take a look over the previous seven posts on authority.  Nee’s idea of misplaced authority being equaled to sin/rebellion/idolatry makes sense to me.  More importantly, it’s Biblical.  The issue is do we destroy the flesh or what Paul calls the old man and let the new man live?  Are we intentional about putting to death those things that cause us pain and suffering?  Or do we just hope they’ll be silent?

My experience has been they won’t go away on their own.  We mustn’t kid ourselves.  The battle is about authority.  And without meaning to sound cliché, it’s about life and death.  May we choose life!

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Authority (7)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee on September 11, 2013 by nmpreach

The cycle of disobedience continued.  Whether it was Noah (after the flood) or the Israelites taken into captivity in Egypt, rebellion against God’s authority was a common theme.  Once delivered from bondage, an entire generation of Israelites died in the wilderness.  A new generation arose and continued the disobedience they had learned.  In fact, they were pretty good at it.  Yet God had promised a land where they would prosper and be set apart for God.

Once Moses had died, Joshua was the leader of God’s people.  His task was to lead them into the Promised Land.

But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things.  And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.

Joshua 7:1 (ESV)

The instructions given by God were clear.  Joshua didn’t misunderstand.  And he passed on God’s directions to the Israelites.  Yet when it came to disposing the Canaanites (enemies within the land), God told Joshua don’t go into battle until the idolatry from within the ranks is removed.

A man named Achan had decided that he could do what he wanted and no one would know.  When going into Jericho and destroying the people, Achan chose to hold back some of the idols for himself.  He hid the items in his tent and went about his business.  Little did he know that his disobedience/rebellion/SIN would affect the entire community.

Upon God’s direction, Joshua brought the people before God clan by clan, family by family, and eventually by individual.  Achan was found out!  And Achan had no option but to confess to his idolatry.

And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had.  And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor.  And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble upon us?  The LORD brings trouble on you today.”  And all Israel stoned him with stones.  They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.  And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day.  Then the LORD turned from his burning anger.

Joshua 7:25-26 (ESV emphasis mine) 

One man’s disobedience affected his entire family.  Don’t be fooled!  Your sin affects those around you.  My sin affects my wife, my children, etc.  Choices made today will come to be realized tomorrow.  And God knows all things.

Remember, it’s not only about disobedience and rebellion.  Those things simply point to misplaced authority.  It all belongs to God!

Authority (6)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee on September 3, 2013 by nmpreach

Although the word “trinity” is not found in Scripture, the concept is there.  Perhaps the best known example is the baptism of Jesus (Mt 3; Mk 1; Lk 3:21).  Jesus is baptized, the Father speaks from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descends.  Jesus said the purpose of His baptism was to “fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15).

The Gospel of John (Ch. 1) speaks of Christ Jesus existing prior to creation.  The Apostle Paul adds:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:15-17 ESV (emphasis mine)

Keep that in mind as we consider Philippians 2.  Paul encourages the Church in Philippi to Have this mind among yourselves. He is speaking of Jesus once again.  He writes of humility, service, and submission to authority.

…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, and being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

Philippians 2:6-8 ESV (emphasis mine)

Although the “persons” within the Trinity are equal, the incarnation meant that Jesus would recognize the Father’s authority.  As Paul said, He emptied Himself (of Divinity and eventually of Humanity) to do the Father’s will.  He is the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end.  He’s our example to follow.  But more importantly, He offers us salvation, He mediates between creation and the Father.

Because of His willingness to lay His own will aside, Christ was exalted.  Our journey to being made like Jesus demands of us the same.

Authority (5)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee with tags , , on August 28, 2013 by nmpreach

If you’re not familiar with the account of Saul and David, you’re missing a great part of Scripture.  Saul is the first Israelite king but realizes David is in line for his throne.  Because of jealousy, pride, and arrogance, Saul attempts many times to hunt and kill David – all to no avail.  God protects David.

At one point in the story, David is deep in a cave where Saul enters to “relieve himself.”  David is encouraged by those closest to him to kill Saul but refuses.  He sneaks up to Saul and simply cuts the bottom of his robe.  Read the account in 1 Samuel 24.  It’s interesting that David is remorseful for cutting the kings clothes.

Just two chapters later, David again has the opportunity to destroy his enemy.  Saul and his men were bedded down for the night while David snuck into the camp and took a jar of water and a spear.  Upon reaching safety once more, David calls to the commander of Saul’s army (Abner) and chastises him for being negligent.  Although David had the opportunity (and was encouraged) to take Saul’s life, again he relented.  Hear David’s reasoning.

The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the LORD’S anointed.

1 Samuel 26:23 (emphasis mine)

David knew he would one day reign over the Israelites.  He had been anointed by God’s prophet (Samuel).  And yet David was loyal to the present reign of Saul.  He placed himself under Saul’s authority.  David denied himself (the temptation to kill Saul and be the king) and trusted in God’s providential timing.  For David, being under God’s authority caused him to serve under a despot who was more concerned with his name than God’s will.

David’s commitment to obedience was more important than his own desire(s).  His submission to the authority of God meant he would live by faith and not by sight.  What a great example for us to follow!  A “man after God’s own heart” is what I too want to be.

Authority (4)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee with tags , , on August 26, 2013 by nmpreach

As I’ve been reading Watchman Nee’s Spiritual Authority, we’ve been considering sin versus authority.  For this post, I want to turn our attention away from the theologian’s book towards Deuteronomy 28.

Submission to an authority obviously signals obedience.  Adam was given dominion over creation.  Yet to be given dominion, there had to be an authority over him.  God had the authority to give because He alone is all-powerful.  Adam (and then Eve) were expected to be obedient.

Another example would be Abram.  Abram was told (in Genesis 12) to leave all he knew and follow the one true God.  The Creator had authority and expected Abram to obey.  Now we turn to the commands of God to the Israelite nation.

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God,

being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today,

the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.

Deut. 28:1 (ESV)

If you’re not familiar with the text, the entire chapter speaks of the consequences of obedience and then the consequences of disobedience.  It might be helpful to read the entire chapter from time to time.  Trust me.  Disobedience results in some harmful life experience.

Here’s the point:  Because God maintains authority, He has every right to expect my obedience.  When you and I are disobedient, we are claiming our own authority.  It’s a place you and I have no business.

Authority (3)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee on August 20, 2013 by nmpreach

Continuing the discussion on authority, I want to turn our attention to Satan himself. Ezekiel 28:13-17 speaks of the pride, arrogance, and rebellion of Satan. It’s lengthy to post here. But take some time to read it. Satan is rebelling against God’s holiness.

Now turn your attention to Isaiah 14:12-15 and notice the rebellion towards authority.

…You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God. I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north… vs 13 (emphasis mine)

Finally, Jesus teaches His disciples to pray in Matthew 6. …And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from (the) evil (one). vs 13 (emphasis mine). “Temptation” according to the Chinese theologian points to holiness; whereas (the) evil (one) points to Satan’s desire for authority.

As we’ve noted before, Nee argues that rebelling against God’s authority is greater than any sin. When Satan tells God what he will do, it’s safe to say he overstepped his bounds. When we follow an authority other than that of God, surely we’ve overstepped our bounds.

Although some of this seems a review of the two earlier posts, I believe it will be helpful for future discussions. Anything to add?

Authority (2)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee on August 16, 2013 by nmpreach

Jeremiah 1

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations…for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak…  See I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.  – vs 5, 7, 10

Jeremiah was told what he must do.  God set his servant apart to speak God’s judgment against His people.  Although Jeremiah had reservations, God did not.  The prophet would speak on behalf of His God.  His authority would come from God.

There are many examples in Scripture of God calling His servants but just giving them enough information that they must act upon faith.  Examples are Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jonah, Peter, and Paul. He wanted them to trust His authority. And these “pillars of faith” (although some were more stubborn than others) realized their authority was limited and led to chaos, whereas God’s authority brought peace and success. I can’t wait to talk to Paul about the Damascus road experience.

The last post on authority mentioned Watchman Nee’s idea of rebellion against authority being a bigger issue than sin. In other words, when authority is properly placed, sin wouldn’t be an issue. Listen to how Nee puts it. “What sets us totally free from Satan is the seeing of this most precious truth – that the kingdom is God’s.” (Pg. 11) And I say YES!

Jeremiah was told clearly that he would only be successful by following God’s authority. God knew him better than he knew himself. The message wasn’t going to be easy. In fact, it wouldn’t be heeded most of the time. And yet God commanded Jeremiah to speak the truth. You see, when you and I step out of the way, God will be glorified. When we put His will above our own God reigns. That’s the way it should be!

Any thoughts?