The significance of authority

God’s authority governs the physical universe. The vegetation and animal kingdoms behave according to God’s authority. Anything observed in the physical universe obeys the creator’s laws. The ingenuity of inventors of modern technological blueprints evolves through manipulations of natural laws. Nothing stands without axiomatic patterns of established natural laws, whose author is God.

A building structure stands, but when the foundation shutters, the entire building collapses. Structures are built according to axiomatic laws, established by the author of the universe. Most Israelite laws were based on axiomatic laws, as established at creation.

All problems of humanity stem from ignoring God’s authority. The term, authority, implies the source of origination. A person in authority wields power on behalf of the originator. A tree may have many branches whose origin is a stem, evolving from a seed that the husbandman planted. Branches cannot produce fruits when disconnected from the stem.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:4-8 NKJV).

There is no reason to despair when pruning is conducted by a qualified husbandman, who keeps the roots undisturbed. The destruction of a plant requires uprooting, rather than just pruning the branches, confirming the existence of established axiomatic laws. Jesus established an indestructible Church, which humans cannot claim authority over its existence.

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20 NKJV).

The gates of Hades cannot prevail where Jesus is in authority. Things may appear distressing when observing what prevails in God’s Church. Individual Christians may be dotted across the world, appearing as hopelessly unable to produce anything.  The advice is to maintain tenacity, as long as aware of Christ’s foundation.

There are thousands of denominational institutions, claiming to represent God’s Church. Loyalty is commonly based on denominational leadership, which may be susceptible to pruning, according to Jesus’ assertion. Many people come into Christianity through the efforts of denominational leaders claiming authorship.

The naive Christians do not even question the authenticity of those claiming to have acquired such authority. To the newly converted, anything said by those, supposedly, in authority, is treated as authentic.

It takes only the prudent to focus on the foundation, rather than denominational leaders. Jesus can grant His authority to whomever He chooses to represent Him, among believers. However, such a leader does not emerge according to human expectations.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:13-16 NIV).

The first claim of Church authority was by the Pope, at the establishment of Catholicism. Multitudes of authoritarian establishments followed later. The unanswered question is who, among those splinter groups, represents Jesus. A representative of Jesus cannot be difficult to find, as his words would not be different from Jesus’ words.

The Book of Revelation highlights the activities of human authorities, in Christian deception. Chapters 13 and 17 describe dramatic events at end-time. The bottom line marks the indomitable authority that sustains God’s Church. There is no other name under the sun, by which humans are salvaged out of sin.

Jesus is unseen, physically, but spiritually observable. Some Bible versions may have attempted to change the discourse, but Jesus’ story is still intact. Pruning is not attractive to Christians. Jesus declared being the true vine, advising His disciples to remain committed to Him.

Authoritative baptism is in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The baptizing person carries little relevance. A convert, appreciating that reality, knows that the baptizing person would not be the authority.  Jesus warned against dubious authorities when advising His disciples of wrong conduct:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.  “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:1-6 NKJV).

These are not idle words, as revealing the effects of pruning projected in John 15. The impact of pruning affects both small and bigger branches. This is to be expected of those having trusted deceitful leaders, but a more significant threat is a millstone on some people’s necks:

 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6 NKJV).

Jesus was communicating with the disciples who had been arguing about leadership after Jesus’ departure. That question was relevant to future times, as not relevant to those disciples, but to us, today.

“Woe to the world because of offences! For offences must come, but woe to that man by whom the offence comes! If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than have two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire” (Matthew 18:7-9 NKJV).

From their question, Jesus envisaged a deeper problem affecting humanity. Jesus was generally speaking from His understanding of human behaviour. This is why He later gave a parable that may not have made sense to the disciples:

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so, it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:10-14 NKJV).

Leaving the ninety-nine sheep at the mercy of wolves sounds irresponsible. But, when grasping the context, of the greatness question, Jesus was focusing on pruning. The ninety-nine sheep get condemned because of authoritarian leadership. Ordinary people feel cosy, under human leadership. The problem manifests at the time of purging.

Nothing appears suspicious among denominational leaders. But prudence lies in asking questions of authenticity. Jesus invalidated the idea of greatness, among believers. Promotion excites many Christians. But Jesus never talked about promotions, as suggested by Paul, whose authority cannot replace that of Christ. `

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:1-3 KJV).

Paul was encouraging those who had become converted through him to emulate him, as he followed Christ. If prudent, those converts would question whenever Paul deviated from Christ’s teachings. In Christianity, a leader is one in Christ’s footsteps. Nevertheless, Christ leads through any person.

Using the Scriptures, questions can be raised against Paul’s teachings. For instance, from where is Paul’s recommendation about women? “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3 KJV). Paul is no longer there to answer, but there is nothing wrong with questioning, as the same Paul also declared:

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29 KJV).

The above Scripture agrees with Jesus’ teachings. However, nothing is wrong with questioning the authenticity of Paul’s recommendation in 1 Corinthians 11:3. Jesus may have directly communicated with Paul, but one cannot rely on assumptions, without Paul’s answer. That is what prudence implies.

The consideration of customary etiquettes also comes to it, but the most important datum is that Jesus is the authority. There is no prudence in adulating humans, without clear Christ’s approval. True Christians behave like the Bereans:

“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11 NIV).

If Jesus is the true vine, how can one expect to bear fruit when stuck to some leader, claiming to have been elevated by Christ? The evaluation of data is an individual responsibility. Each person answers to God directly, without any excuse of being betrayed by some other leader.

The deceiver may receive his fair punishment of a millstone on his neck, but, so what? That does not absolve the deceived from purging, according to Jesus’ utterance. The call is for Christians to keep focused on Jesus and forget about possible charlatans masquerading as authentic leaders.

Even when degraded, a responsible person cannot afford to succumb. There is no room for cowardice, in Christianity. A Christian is not a nonentity, as baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The common problem is cowardice. Hence, in Zimbabwe, Zanu PF has managed to ill-treat citizens for forty-four years.

Christian responsibility is not a casual matter. Those in government are not gods. It has taken a person, as young as Chamisa, to check such authoritarian behaviours. Most of those appearing as noble prefer tucking tails under their legs like wimping puppies. God’s Children have nothing to fear in this world.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com  for $6.99

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