We Are always Under Someone’s Authority in this World!

I want to deal, in this post and several others to follow, with the first reason why accepting Jesus as Lord is integral to the Christian life—

Submission to Jesus as Lord connects us to him in a personal relationship.

Romans 14:9 “that He might be Lord…of the living.”

How does a modern person interpret Jesus’s Lordship?  

We live in a democratic age that values human freedom so much that no one can tell us as individuals what to do and what not to do. How is that working out for us as a society? We call all the shots, but is this true freedom? Or, is this a modern “cult of freedom” that amounts to sinful autonomy? Dr. R. C. Sproul defines sinful autonomy and why it is sinful—

Ultimately man can be completely autonomous only if, indeed, there is no God. But if God does exist, then the quest for human autonomy is a fool’s quest. It simply cannot happen. (see “Muehlenberg”; also see “Sproul, 2018” below) 

We are always under someone’s authority in this fallen world.

Colossians 1:13 states there are two realms—

13 He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

We are either under Christ’s genuine rule or under Satan’s usurped dominion. These are the only two realms that exist in this world. There is no third—such as “I rule myself.”

First, there is the dominion of darkness under Satan who has usurped authority over mankind when Adam fell into sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12-21). The Greek word for “dominion” is exousia, “authority” = “the power of [one] whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed” (Thayer). Since Satan’s is a usurped authority, his is not a true kingdom. His is a forced rule where people are dominated and driven according to Satan’s self-centered and sinful whims.

Second, there is the Kingdom of Jesus, the Beloved Son of the Father, whose realm has been given to Him as God’s Messiah (Greek = Christos = “anointed one” or “king”). The Greek word for kingdom is basileia = “the territory subject to the rule of a king” (Thayer). The authority of a king is dependent upon the goodness of the king who rules. Our King, Jesus, is a good as he is great! His is a true kingdom given to him by his Father. It is a place of love and gracious favor bestowed upon all his subjects! 

LOTRs

Kurt Bruner, spokesman for the “Inklings of God,” produces podcasts about the Lord of the Rings (LOTRs) books and films. They have been a blessing to me. He analyzes the theology behind the book LOTRs, and he also contrasts LOTRs books to the Harry Potter books. (I’m not disparaging Harry Potter as entertainment, but I do not want the books as theology.) He makes a valid point about the difference between LOTRs book and the Harry Potter books. A person is always under the authority of another in Tolkien’s mythopoetic world, Middle Earth. In contrast, the Harry Potter books have no one under the authority of anyone else. Everyone in Rowling’s mythopoetic world of Hogwarts is an independent agent acting on his own. (See below “Lord of the Rings: Backstory.”)

We do well to consider that in this fallen cosmos, we are all born under the usurped authority of Satan. Jesus Christ is God’s anointed (Christ) sent by God to carry out the program of redemption of us from Satan’s dominion.

Pilgrims burden falls away

The picture above is from Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. It records the moment when Christian arrives at the cross. His sin-burden rolls away and falls into a grave behind him. “Salvation comes as a result of the atoning work of Christ and the exchange of our sin from our backs to His, as well as the cloak of His righteousness being transferred from His account to ours.”  (see “R. C. Sproul, 2006,” below on this scene from Pilgrim’s Progress.)

What kind of King is Jesus?

Jesus is king in two senses. (1) He is King in an essential sense as God the Son. However, he also is king in a secondary sense, too. (2) He is mediator of the new covenant. He has a mediatorial kingdom given to him by the Father.

Psalm 2 is so helpful here!

6 “…I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
7 “I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.'” (NKJV) 

Psalm 2 is more than a promise to David’s descendants. It speaks of King Jesus! He alone dashes his and our enemies in pieces at His feet! 

What benefits do we get from Jesus as our King?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC) defines Christ’s Mediatorial kingdom—

Question 26. How does Christ execute the office of a king?

Answer. Christ executes the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies. (See below, “WSC”)

This is what we pray for when we pray, “Thy kingdom come!” Jesus Christ is intent upon the salvation of human beings and the propagation of his Church. Satan opposes Christ and his work of redemption. The two realms in this world are at war, but are not equal in power. “Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4 NKJV).

As Christians who’ve been born again (John 3), we have to realize “we’ve been born on a battlefield” (to quote Arthur Matthews). We have no choice but to fight to survive. Our King, Jesus, has triumphed over Satan, the usurper. 

Didn’t Jesus Defeat Satan at the Cross! Then, why are we still fighting? 

Jesus indeed defeated Satan at the cross! But, we live between two days, in a sense. The analogy comes from WWII. “D-Day” was the invasion of Europe by the Allies that led to the end of WWII. It made victory certain, yet the enemy fought on to the bitter end. “VE-day” was the day the victory was enforced and the enemy was vanquished from the battlefield. We await spiritually that great day which was made certain by Jesus’s crucifixion—Satan’s defeat! We live between two days in God’s redemptive program.

 

Pictured above are Christ’s two days: (1) The crucifixion = D-Day in our spiritual warfare; and (2) the casting of Satan into hell = VE-Day in that war.
(Engraving 1 is by Rembrandt; 2 is by Doré)

One former mentor used to say (I paraphrase), “We live in the mean-time. And if we do not assume our place as God’s warrior-children, it can be a mean time indeed.” It doesn’t have to be a mean time. We are born under Satan’s dominion, but we can be removed by becoming subjects of the Beloved King Jesus.

Prayer

O Jesus, my Savior and Lord,
I am pummeled by your enemy and mine—Satan.
I have tried at times to live as an independent agent, and it hasn’t worked.
I submit myself to your gracious rule and authority.
I reaffirm You are my Lord and Savior!
Forgive my sins and cleanse me from the pollution.

Subdue me to yourself; rule and defend me;
Restrain and conquer your and my enemies!
In Jesus name, Amen.


Notes

“Lord of the Rings: Backstory” podcast, accessed from https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inklings-of-god

Muehlenberg, Bill. (2014). “The Grievous Sin of Autonomy” [blog post, 10 April 2014] accessed 9 June 2018 from https://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/04/10/the-grievous-sin-of-autonomy/

Sproul, R. C. (2006). “Christian Loses His Burden” from Tabletalk Magazine accessed 9 May 2018 from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/christian-loses-his-burden/

Sproul, R. C. (2018). If There’s a God, Why Are There Atheists? [new edition] accessed 9 June 2018 from https://www.ligonier.org/blog/new-edition-rc-sprouls-classic-book-if-theres-god-why-are-there-atheists/

Thayer. Accessed from https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/

WSC question 26. Accessed May 24, 2018 from http://www.reformed.org/documents/wsc/index.html?_top= http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC.html

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

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