By Connie W. Adams
One in authority has the right to command, direct, and enforce obedience. He also has the right to administer punishment to the disobedient. When the one having ultimate authority empowers others to act upon his will, then in that manner he authorizes action. One who assumes authority not granted by the one who has the right to empower acts with presumption and flaunts all authority.
In divine matters, as they relate to man, authority springs from the creation. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27). If there is no divine creator, then there is no creation, the universe is the product of chance, man himself is an accident of nature and there is no basis for moral or spiritual authority. This is the very premise from which the secular humanist works. He boldly proclaims “There is no God” and “Man is the measure of himself.”
Order in the Universe
But if God created the universe, then order flows from his power to make whatever exists. In God’s speech to Job he asked, Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; to cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; to satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? Hath the rain a father or who hath begotten the drops of dew? Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? (Job 38:4, 22-31).
Start with the premise that “God is” and the existence and order in the universe makes sense. If God made it all and it functions according to his power, then we are spared all the hand wringing about global cooling, global warming, depleting the ozone, running out of water, running out of wood, running out of food, and all the anxieties concocted in the humanist mind. That is not to say that man should not be a good steward of the world God made for us. But he did make it for us! The God who made it is still in charge. The unbeliever with all his vaunted wisdom and arrogant self-assurance cannot form one drop of dew on the ground, cannot make it rain, nor stay the terrifying rumble of an earthquake, nor stop the force of a hurricane. The authority of the Almighty rules in the universe.
Order in the Moral Realm
Because God made man, man is subject to divine law. If there is no God, then there is no basis for moral order. Much of the chaos which is evidenced by all forms of crime and immorality grows out of a disrespect for divine authority. If man has evolved by chance then he has no standard for moral behavior except whatever he imposes upon him-self. This is the spring from which situation ethics flows. But if God made us, he has the right to determine what is moral conduct and to call us to account for disregarding his authority over us.
This point was forcefully driven home by Paul on Mars Hill in his speech to the Athenian philosophers. Read Acts 17:24-31. Go on, and read it. Notice verse 24: “God that made the world and all things therein.” Then look at verse 26: “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” Look at verse 28: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” Verse 30 informs us that “God commands all men everywhere to repent.” Why is that? Now look at verse 31: “Because 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.”
Do you see the progression? God made the world and all things therein. In him we live and move and have our being. Therefore, God calls upon us to repent. Why is that?
He has appointed a day of judgment. God made us, expects something of us, and will call us to account for that responsibility. The Creator has authority over the creature. Paul’s question to the Romans is pertinent. “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor” (Rom. 9:20-21)?
With notable exceptions, the morals of this nation are a shambles. How did we come to such a sad state of affairs? The creature has scorned his Creator. We have fallen into the same pit into which the Gentile nations plunged as described by Paul in Romans 1:18-32. When they knew God, they did not glorify him as God (v. 21). Did they have abundant evidence of his power and majesty? Oh yes! They had the whole universe as testimony to the existence and power of the Al-mighty (v. 20). But they became ungrateful, filled with vanity and arrogance. While they boasted of their great wisdom they in reality became fools. As their hearts became darker and darker they made idols to satisfy man’s innate desire to worship something. The end result of all that was moral chaos. Everything from homosexuality to murder followed. How and why did this happen? The creature lost respect for the Creator. As in the world at large, even so among those who claim to follow Christ, moral looseness grows out of waning respect for the authority of God to rule in our hearts and direct the affairs of life. Happy is the one who seeks the Lord, gropes after him and finds him, though he is not far from every one of us (Acts 17:27). (More to Come)
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 24, p. 3-4
December 21, 1995