I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.
(Galatians 1:1, NLT)
The Apostle Paul in the opening verse of his letter to the churches of Galatia defends his Apostolic authority by claiming “Jesus Christ and God the Father” is the One who gave him his authority to speak of the Gospel message and to claim it as being the one true Gospel. But how can Paul presume upon the authority of Jesus and God for the authority given to him? Paul draws upon a deep and historic well of a theology of authority, that has always, rightly and only, belonged to Jesus and the Father.
In today’s modern culture, we dislike (more like despise!) the concept of authority. We wish to follow our dreams, create our own destiny, be our own boss, and ‘stick it to the man’. Our individualistic, success-driven culture looks more like celebrated rebellion and competition on a day-to-day basis than a society known for its hustle and drive that contributes to the success and well-being of the world around them. The result? Employees vying for promotions using unethical practices. Politicians lacking integrity when running for office and representing their constituents. Students with little eagerness or motivation to learn from their devoted teachers. Athletes that disrespect their coaches and fellow teammates on and off the field. Church members who disparage their pastor and elected elders. Business owners that evade government and law enforcement officials. And children that scream back at their parents, ‘you’re not the boss of me!’
Furthermore, the advent of modern technology and the internet has democratized knowledge, spreading it to the masses and making almost anything knowable by anyone. While this has demonstrated many benefits, including bringing education to remote parts of the world or under-privileged communities, there is another effect. Today, anyone can be a self-proclaimed ‘expert’ at almost anything based on learned knowledge alone, apart from proven results or personal contributions. While we celebrate widespread influence and distribution of knowledge and information across the globe, no longer does the individual feel bound to an authority (or so goes the lie).
The lie we believe today is the same lie that was presented to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden by the serpent: we too can be like God, or in other words, be “God like” (see Genesis 3). Deep down, we want to be the gods of our own personal universe. The more autonomy, the less rules to obey, and the more people under our influence and authority, the more successful and powerful we perceive to be.
A theology of authority is critical to our understanding of who God is, who Jesus is, and who we are. God is the source, initiator, and final authority to all things in creation. Anyone or anything that rightly holds authority is given by and mediated under God’s mighty hand and subjected to him and his perfect authority (see Romans 13:1-2). Our rebellious attempts to grow our own authority will only be met with frustration, resistance, and frustration. Instead, we can (and should) embrace the authorities in our life, including that of God, Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the Biblical authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit because of who God is: our great, holy, and perfect Sovereign that rules a Kingdom that cannot be shaken or destroyed with an eternal promise of salvation and life forever in paradise with Him.
As such, we can trust the doctrine of the Infallibility of Scripture as stated in our Doctrinal Statement, “As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged.” In other words, because God is the ultimate authority over all creation (everything that exists, seen and unseen), He maintains final authority over all ways, means, and things that reveal Himself to His creation – including the Scriptures.