The Authority of God
Since God is the sovereign Creator, he has authority over all things and all creation is called on to praise him. The very heavens are called to praise him.
“Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created” (Psalm 148:1-5).
Angels are called on to praise him and in fact they do. In Isaiah’s vision he heard the seraphims cry one to another, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). The sun, moon and stars are called on to praise Him and Psalm 19 tells us there is no language where their voice is not heard:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech no language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun…” (Psalm 19:1-4).
Commenting on this passage, C. H. Spurgeon writes:
“It is not merely glory that the heavens declare, but the “glory of God,” for they deliver to us such unanswerable arguments for a conscious, intelligent, planning, controlling, and presiding Creator, that no unprejudiced person can remain unconvinced by them. The testimony given by the heavens is no mere hint, but a plain, unmistakable declaration; and it a declaration of the most constant and abiding kind…In the expanse above us God flies, as it were, his starry flag to show that the King is at home, and hands out his escutcheon that atheists may see how he despises their denunciations of him.”
King Over His Creation
So the heavens are praising God, they continually declare his glory. The message is conveyed that the Creator should be acknowledged and praised by the inhabitants of the earth: “Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men and maidens; old men and children: Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven” (Psalm 148:11-13).
Some claim that the evidence is not enough, that they are not sure there is an all powerful God who created all things and therefore they cannot lift up their voices in praise. But Paul declares in Romans 1:20 that “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
All men are accountable to their Maker and no one will have just cause to blame him in that final day for failing to provide the evidence needed.
At Mars Hill, Paul declared that God commands all men everywhere to repent, emphasizing man’s accountability and the approaching day of reckoning: “He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
These words were addressed to people who were worshipping many false gods. They were not told that as long as they were sincere and were zealous in their efforts all was well; they were told to repent and turn from their false gods because judgment is coming.
A man once told me about visiting a psychiatrist when he was struggling with a number of personal problems. The counselor knew that the man had not been attending church for a few years but had started back because of this crisis in his life. He was now reading his Bible and actively seeking help from the Lord. But the psychiatrist told him not to feel obligated to pursue this new interest in spiritual things. He said if this “religious thing” is not working for you just leave it alone, you don’t want to add another burden to carry. I told the man you might decide to forget God and his Word but that won’t solve your problem.
You can’t run from God, you still have to meet him one day.
“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
King Over His Church
In Psalm 148, after the writer has called on all creation and all men to praise the Lord, he then says in verse fourteen, “He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints…”
Many who see the evidence of God’s greatness in the heavens, and who enjoy the benefits of the rain which he sends upon the just and the unjust, never acknowledge his greatness or give thanks for his blessings. But his saints praise him. They marvel at his power and wisdom in the beauty of his creation. They recognize their unworthiness and so are amazed at the abundant mercies that they daily receive and joyfully praise God for them.
We are told in Colossians 2 that by Jesus Christ all things were created and it has pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell. He is the Creator, he is head of the church, and in all things he has the preeminence. Spurgeon writes, “Certain princes have delighted to call themselves kings by the popular will, and certainly our Lord Jesus Christ is such in his church. If it could be put to the vote whether he should be King in his church, every believing heart would crown him.”
Jesus Christ is indeed the King in his kingdom; the head of his church with absolute authority.
It is his gospel which is preached, it is his ordinances which are observed, it is his Word which is the only rule of faith and practice.
No authority was ever given to the church or its ministers to change its message or its mission. In fact we find in Revelation chapters two and three that when local assemblies had veered from the course, the Head of the church calls for change — repent or the candlestick will be removed.
Christ has given authority to the church for the administration of its ordinances and the exercise of discipline. Many today have difficulty accepting that authority. They prefer to attend a church where they can slip in and out unnoticed without having to interact with other believers or be subject to discipline. It is a mistake to equate discipline with exclusion. Exclusion is a final step to be taken only when diligent labor has been unsuccessful, but every Christian needs exhortation and accountability to other believers. “Exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
While the Scriptures make it clear that a pastor is not to be a lord over God’s heritage, he is placed in a position of authority as he shepherds the flock: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
In this day when respect for authority in every area of life has declined; this concept of the pastor’s authority is often ignored. But when that authority is recognized, and the pastor is able to give biblical guidance which is then received and followed, it is not only joy to the shepherd but is profitable to the sheep.
God is the ultimate authority in all things and he has placed authority in the home, in the church, and in civil government.
When God’s order is followed it gives glory to his name and is of great benefit to all who observe it.