Speaking With Authority

I saw something sweetly tantalising in a familiar Bible text on Sunday. It has to do with Authority which is a bit of a thing with me over the past year or so, linked in to such things as Jurisdiction, personal sovereignty and such like.

What I saw is that authority is directly linked to speaking authoritatively, so that things happen as a result.

Now, guess where I found that in the Bible. It is in a passage that is often quoted in reference to authority – the comments by the Roman Centurion to explain why he was confident that Jesus could heal the centurion’s servant simply by speaking the word.

ClayDetailCenturian

“And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, begging him, And saying, Lord, my servant lies at home paralysed, grievously tormented. And Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to those that followed, Truly I tell you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Matthew 8:5-10

Now, in case you missed the salient point let me remind you that this dialogue is about Authority. The centurion is absolutely confident that Jesus has the Authority to heal the sick servant. And that confidence about authority is directly linked in the Centurion’s mind to speaking.

The Centurion is saying, “I know how authority works. When you have authority all you have to do is give a command and it is obeyed. Jesus, I know you have authority so all you really have to do is give the command and the healing will be done.”

As you explore your own authority remember that it is directly linked to your words. When dad gives an instruction to his children or says “No” to their request there is great power in that expression of his authority. When a person who has authority speaks up in a meeting, to raise a question or press a point, the words have effect.

People who don’t have authority are ignored, shouted down, disregarded and silenced. If that is you, then you need to talk with God about what you have to do to recover your personal authority, or the authority of your place (as parent, husband, leader or whatever).

Another key from that passage about the Centurion is that a person has authority not inherently of themself, but because they are “under authority”. The Centurion said “I am a man under authority, and so I am able to tell others what to do.” If you have lost your authority it may be that you need to repent of having rejected the authorities which God has placed over you (your parents, husband, boss, leaders, etc).

I encourage you to discover the authority God has given you, reclaim and heal it if it has been damaged or lost in some way, and then Speak Up! Speak as one with authority, so you can release that authority into those you are responsible for.

The image of Jesus with the Centurion, above is “A Centurion’s Plea” from Clay Illustrations by Georgia Cawley

People Power in the Court

In part 2 of this series (The Court as a Bully) we saw that the Court is effectively a machine waiting to be activated to operate on some matter or other which an individual brings to the Court. The court is thus powerless to do its own thing and waits, like a servant, to come to life when asked by someone to deal with a case.

Most of us have been raised to see the court as a very powerful mechanism to be feared. So it is interesting to reflect on the high level of people power which is involved in legal action. That’s the point of this post.

People Activate The Court

people

As mentioned above, it is people who activate the court. The court does not activate itself. The court is dormant and uninvolved in the affairs or ordinary people. The court can be ignored by the vast majority of us throughout our lives. The Court has no right to interfere with the normal life of ordinary men and women until and unless a case involving those individuals is brought before the Court.

A Court needs “standing” in order to act on a matter. For the court to have “standing” to take up a matter one party must make an accusation against another. The accusation must be sworn under oath otherwise it lacks sufficient validity to engage the court.

So the first point about People Power in the Court is that it is People who Activate the Court. It takes People Power to turn the key to get the legal wheels turning.

Agreement Needed

Even when one person has activated the court by filing a writ, complaint or claim with the court the court is not able to do as it pleases in taking the case forward. More people power is needed.

In most cases the court must have the agreement of both parties in order to proceed. If one party refuses to allow the court to meddle with their affairs then the court is severely limited. Mind you, this is not a well known fact and the courts probably don’t like me letting the cat out of the bag.

In most cases a court is an extension of a problem-solving process between two parties. One party may call upon the court to arbitrate and determine the outcome of a dispute between the two parties. This is usually done when that person is frustrated by how slow the resolution process is going, or the stand taken by the other party.

When the court takes up the complaint of one party against another, to become the arbiter in the dispute, both parties must agree to accept the court’s ruling. If one of the parties refuses to authorise the court’s action then it is disempowered. The court cannot lawfully proceed.

When I went to the Victorian Magistrates Court to see how things were done I noted that there are mediation processes for some cases. However mediation will not be engaged unless both parties agree to it. This need for agreement is representative of the reality across many court proceedings. The court only has as much authority as people give it.

Bluff and Bluster

Most people have been trained to see themselves as subject to the demands of the court and government officials, and therefore unable to resist the impositions, judgements and demands made by a court or government official.

Because “agreement” to the authority of the court is essential for the court to exercise authority over individuals a series of apparently authoritative processes has been put in place to bluff and intimidate people into accepting the role of the court in their affairs. Such things as a summons, court order, judgement, penalty and fine carry the impression of authority. Remember that the court can become nothing more than a “rent a bully” in the hands of some people.

A businessman I once knew shocked me by being completely unimpressed with letters from lawyers and courts. He dealt with them the way it suited him, despite the threats or actions mounted against him. I had so little contact with courts that I was completely convinced that legal action by lawyers and courts was a desperately serious business full of power to intimidate. This man however had been in many legal cases and was completely undaunted, unafraid and unimpressed.

Courtroom Architecture

courtroom

Courtroom architecture and processes give people the impression that individuals have no real “standing” and that the court has all the authority. This really stood out to me when I viewed the Victorian Magistrates Court Virtual Courtroom on their website.

The images and video clips show the magistrate sitting high and above all, presiding over the whole realm of the court. The witness box appears like a small prison cell and it is seen as a tough place to be. The lawyers have the right to stand before the magistrate, but the real people, with the real issue to be resolved, are slumped in chairs in the background, as powerless ones, watching other people deliberate about their lives.

Overturning the Illusion

Yet in truth it is the individual who carries all the power and authority. The court cannot act at all without being given authority to do so by an individual who raises a case. The individual gives the court standing, not the other way around. If the individual who activated the court withdraws their charges the court suddenly grinds to a halt. It can only act on the authority of an individual. The true authority is the people, not the court.

The party being attacked by court process must give permission to the court in order for the court to have any authority over them. Each lawyer must be engaged by the individual in order to have permission to represent that individual. The sworn testimony by an individual in the witness box is the most important resource available to the court. Everything that is not attested to by sworn testimony or witnessed signature is hearsay and of no consequence.

So the individual authorises the court, authorises the lawyer and provides the only authoritative resource the court can address. Thus it is absurd that the court so design itself and its processes and paperwork to give any other impression.

Being In Control

The reason the courts give the false impression that the individual is powerless and of no consequence is so the court can assert more power and authority than it rightfully has. Individuals are led to give authority to the court, so the court can operate at all and even operate against them. If individuals assign their personal authority to the court, by acquiescence, then the court can operate with power over those individuals. And we all know that power is addictive and corrupts those who hold it.

The individuals are in control. They provide the energy for the court to operate. They are not victims of the court but its masters. That is not to say that individuals dictate the law or the outcome of the court, but they are much more significant players in all legal action than they will ever be told they are by lawyers or the courts.

Acquiescence

Since it is individuals who hold much of the authority in our society and societal processes, such as government and courts, there seems to be much misinformation to convince individuals that they don’t have that authority and to get them to give in, or acquiesce.

If a person gives up their personal authority by being bluffed or deceived, they lose that authority and can be ruled easily.

Governments and courts like it when people submit to whatever imposition they impose. It makes it easy to govern and to get the results you want when people simply go along with it. Sadly many people’s rightful entitlements have been abused by government and court actions.

If you are unfortunate enough to have to confront the court then maybe you should give some thought to who really holds authority in the system and what part you should play in navigating through the processes that may be forced upon you.

The Bible as a Political Text

The world has many celebrated political texts which illuminate various political perspectives. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a political treatise in story form. His “1984” is similarly charged with political messages. Hitler had his Mein Kampf. Marx relied on Darwin’s Origin of Species. Mao had his Little Red Book. Political texts come from the Greeks and Romans, along with many writings from before and since.

The Political Bible

But have you ever considered the Bible as a Political Text? I had never given the matter any thought until recently. I had unconsciously ascribed the Bible to the “Religion” Category. Many people who oppose the Bible are keen to promote it as nothing more than a book of religious sentiment. Sadly, unthinking Christians (and I include myself in this category) have allowed unbelievers to tell us how we can use the book God gave us.

Consider the Evidence

The Bible is the book from which a whole nation was governed for thousands of years. Did you get that word ‘governed’? The Bible supervised the Jewish nation through the stages of personal sovereignty, communal governance, prophetic leadership, judges, kings, priests and messianic ministry.

The Bible prescribes personal responsibility, communal accountability, leadership jurisdiction, limitations of power, prescribed punishments for crimes, payments of levies, interplay of priest and civic leaders, court procedures and so on.

And not only are these things discussed in practice and theory, they are demonstrated in the accounts of people’s lives.

Living in a Political World

Daniel and his three friends lived under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar and successfully confronted that king’s authority, relying on the principles given in the Bible.

Moses confronted the political power of Pharaoh, doing most of his business with that world ruler in Pharaoh’s own court.

Abraham dealt directly with the Abimelech (Canaanite leader) of his day, and so too did Isaac.

Jesus Christ was tried and crucified in the Roman courts and the Apostle Paul made many appearances before Roman appointed rulers.

The people of the Bible interacted with political powers and relied on the teachings of the Bible to empower them and to determine how they stood before those kings.

Some Amazing Political Statements

Consider this quick pick of hot political statements straight from the pages of the Bible.

“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” Jesus Christ, Mark 12:17

“Jesus answered, You could have no power at all against me, except it were given you from above: therefore he that delivered me to you has the greater sin.” Jesus Christ, John 19:11

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” 1Peter 2:17

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
Have Another Look

I trust that these few examples are enough to fire up your interest in the Bible as a Political Text. You just might be amazed at the political wisdom and the personal authority you can operate by, once you see what the Bible is really saying.

Sovereignty Reigns Supreme

One of the awesome realities about our personal sovereignty is its inherent power. We, as sovereign citizens, can exercise incredible, miraculous power. That’s not because of any power resident within us in inherent in our being. The power is God’s power. But we can access that power, as people able to enter God’s presence and do business with Him.
History provides us a number of compelling examples, passed down to us in the historical records of the Bible. We find that ordinary citizens, less physically capable than their opponents, have been able to overthrow their enemies and win against insurmountable odds. The reason they could do so is because they were able to exercise their personal sovereignty. That’s why I say that sovereignty reigns supreme.
Personal sovereignty, when properly understood and exercised in the fear of God, brings people into line with the will of God and gives them access to the power of God. Consequently they end up with more clout than governments, armies and people of obvious social influence.
Consider the prophet Elisha. He had no political privilege. He had no special social influence. He had no army, nor any great store of money to use for productive ends. He was simply a ‘prophet of God’. He lived in a country where the ruler did not fear God and where most of the populace were idolaters. Yet he was a man who knew God. He had diligently pursued the right to do business with God.
So, when the nation of Syria decided to invade his country, Israel, this insignificant man, living in one of the villages in the countryside, was able to know what the king of Syria was planning. He would send intelligence information to the King of Israel. This happened so consistently and so accurately that the King of Syria suspected there must be a traitor among his closest advisors.
When the King of Syria discovered the personal influence of this one, defenceless prophet, he sent his whole army to capture the man of God. Yet Elisha was able to boldly walk straight up to the leader of the invading army and lead them all into a trap. See 2Kings 6:8-20.
One solitary sovereign citizen can exercise greater clout than a king and his entire army. One solitary person who understands their right to stand in the presence of God can call down power and outcomes that cannot be bought with millions of dollars.
David was a lad, but he knew his sovereign right to stand in faith in his God. So David, the shepherd boy, killed the fiercest enemy warrior, Goliath.
King Saul’s son, Jonathan, knew that with God on his side he could beat a group of enemy soldiers, and so he did.
Gideon, reluctantly at first, discovered that a small group of soldiers with God on their side is no match for a huge army without God.
Personal sovereignty reigns supreme. That doesn’t mean that people can be anarchists, because the only way to exercise personal sovereignty is to be in submission to the will and purpose of God, Himself. It also doesn’t mean that people should defy the authorities under which God has placed them. But it does mean that those who will press in to God’s presence, and be the people God wants them to be, will be empowered to work the works of God, despite opposition and every resource that is thrown against them. Some will experience miraculous power and miraculous outcomes. Others, like the many martyrs in human history, will take a stand for God and pay for it with their lives.
Personal sovereignty starts with the realisation that we all have to fall at the feet of Almighty God and enter into relationship with Him, on His terms, for His purposes, despite the personal cost to ourselves. From there, there is no stopping you as you step out and fulfil the will of God in your life.

Sovereignty For All? Not Osama?

Personal sovereignty is the inalienable right we each have to present ourselves before God and to do business directly with Him. Each one of us can approach the God of the universe, the creator of all things, on an equal footing. None of us needs a mediator or interpreter to represent us in that highest of all courts. We represent ourselves, and we do not need to heed the advice of any legal elite or any protocol protectors.
The rights of personal sovereignty are awesome in their unbounded scope. Governments can throw you in prison and hold a gun to your head, demanding that you do not approach God’s throne, and yet, from the stinking depths of a putrid dungeon, with your lips closed, you can lift your heart to God and do business with the maker of all eternity. No tyrant, political power or personal intimidation can deny you your rights before God.
That having been discussed in previous posts, I come now to the ugly thought of the true universality of personal sovereignty. A previous post, The Divine Right of Everyone, pointed out that human-kind has equality before God. One is not “better” or superior to another, based on rank or station. I pointed out that the wealthy property owner, Boaz, ancestor to King David, received a “blessing” from his lowly employees, when, as the Bible teaches, ‘the lesser is blessed by the greater’. Such an action should have represented an insult, but all humans are equal, despite wealth and station, so the lowest can invoke God’s blessing on the greatest among us.
But allow me to take that thought to another level. Even the vilest and most despised people on the planet have the right to personal sovereignty!
Now, I know that to be an offensive thought, because people have told me so. On one occasion I preached about the truly amazing quality of God’s grace. I pointed out that God’s grace is such that if Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot or Osama bin Ladin were to ask for God’s forgiveness and grace, they could have it. I was confronted later by a delegation of people who insisted that God would most certainly NOT forgive such people. Murderers, serial killers and others were deemed by these church-goers to be outside the scope of God’s grace. It was offensive to them that the goodness of God should be allowed anywhere near such people.
Society at large carries a loathing toward certain evil personas. Society at large, being outside God’s grace and not knowing His ways, is keen to function as judge, jury and executioner for some of those evil characters. So the response I faced to my proclamation of God’s awesome grace is not an isolated case. People do not want the incredible divine privileges which God confers to be conferred on us ALL!
The last person to be deemed to be ‘outside the law’ in Australia, was a bushranger named Ned Kelly. He had become so notorious for his actions that all protection provided under the British legal system was withdrawn from him. He was deemed to be an ‘outlaw’. That word, which most of us know from old western movies, is normally taken to simply mean a ‘baddie’. But its legal application is that the person is deemed to be ‘outside the law’ and no longer under the protection of the law. Anyone could kill an outlaw, any time, any place, without legal recrimination.
But, even if the government of the day designates a person to be no longer protected by the civil law that outlawed person still has the full rights of sovereignty to stand before God and make their case.
Do you want a Bible example? Consider Cain, who murdered his brother, Abel. Cain was the first murderer in human history. He had given himself over to serving devilish will, instead of the will of God. God put a special curse on Cain and made him a vagabond. Yet, when Cain made appeal to God, God listened and gave concessions to Cain. See Genesis 4:13-15.
Believe it or not, God is ready to welcome Osama bin Ladin into His presence. Public enemies number #1, #2, #3, etc, all have personal sovereignty. They can yet change their eternal destiny. Until they are in hell they can still step into God’s presence and do business about their soul with the Almighty God.
I don’t know how that affects you or whether you like the idea or not. Personally I think it is fantastic news! I’m absolutely delighted that God does not write me off, even if everyone else on the planet does. I don’t want to stand before mankind, with all the foibles of resentment, unforgiveness, etc that can get in the way. I want the inalienable privilege, which God affords us all as sovereign citizens under heaven, to come to the Living God, just as King David did when he sinned, and to find God’s grace, even if others don’t want me to have it.