Now when God made us, He didn’t ask us how we wanted to be formed. As Creator He possesses all wisdom, and therefore knows what is best for us. That is why He has the right to tell us how to live in order to fulfill the purpose for which He feels. A harmonious relation with His divine authority.
Man, under satan however, sought continually in his history to usurp that authority. The first man cut the cords of unity with deity; men ever since have been exercising their own authority. Whatever discord and catastrophe we are now reaping is not due to the exercise of God’s spiritual immoral authority, but ours. We have become self-directed relativists instead of accepting God’s absolute authority.
Of course, we have to accept His authority when it comes to the laws of nature that He has established for if we didn’t, we would perish. We must eat food, breathe oxygen, and reckon with gravity everyday of our lives. But we have rejected his absolute laws in the spiritual and moral real, acting as if God knows the rightness of one but not the other.
That’s why we are advancing in science and retrogressing in morals. We have placed our dependence on God’s natural laws but have questioned the dependability of His moral laws. But God has all authority, and He expects us to respect and obey it.
This authority was manifested to us in a tangible and unmistakable way in history through the Lord Jesus Christ. Christian faith starts not with an idea but with a supernatural Person who can be traced in a historical context.
This unique individual lived on this earth, He spoke as no one ever spoke, claimed what no man EVER claimed, did what no man ever did, and died as no one ever died, but in three days He would rise again. And because He did, we can respect His authority, He proved that He was what Scripture claimed Him to be the Creator of all things and of us.
He is therefore entitled to our absolute obedience. Our happiness depends on whether we accept or reject what He has to say to us. Now because Paul, or Saul, had been a self-satisfied individual, he saw no reason to accept such authority. Such pride keeps many a man from examining the evidence for the truth of the gospel. Therefore, the Lord had to bring Paul to the place where he could no longer deny His authority and spoke to him audibly. Knocked him down, blinded him.
Sometimes on stubborn occasions God needs to take strong measures with us. His actions are often conditioned by our attitude towards His revelation. If we voluntarily reject His authority it then becomes necessary for Him to impose it forcibly.
Now He allows a certain period of time in which we have some latitude in this matter of accepting His authority. The day will come when our relative and permitted authority to reject His absolute authority will be put under His feet as 1 Corinthians 15: 25 tells us what He is going to do to all earthly authority at the consummation of the age.
The Lord does even now in some instances, as in the case of Paul. That is why, at the beginning of his epistle Paul so consistently says, “Paul, called apostle of Christ Jesus.” He declares his authority as an apostle but does so in a way which shows that he recognizes it to be derived directly from the Lord.
He’s under authority, therefore vested with authority. He felt the authority of the Lord Jesus in His risen glory more forcibly than any other disciple. He was not simply wooed by a simple command to “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). But he was struck down by God’s authority.
It seems to me that Paul never lost the impact of the authority of the Lord in his entire life. That is why more than any other apostle he is certain every time he writes to believers in various places, he wants them to know he is truly an apostle under authority, and with authority. Consequently, what he says must be received not with a challenge of human wisdom but with the obedience of a child toward a father, of a creature toward the Creator, in spite of the fact that in himself Paul was neither, but was the servant, an ambassador of God the Father. And the Creator, and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
He spoke from authority derived directly for Christ Himself, something we cannot do because we have not had the same opportunity of seeing the risen Christ. It’s interesting to note that in the original Greek the order of the words here is not the same as in the King James translation. Paul does not say, “A called apostle of Jesus Christ,” but “of Christ Jesus.”
He does the same thing in 2 Corinthians 1:1, and at the beginning of Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Philemon. Paul was claiming his apostleship not from a historical figure called Jesus, but from Christ Himself: Christ Jesus. He was looking at the Lord first as God, and then as man.
Christ was the name of His function of office. It means “the elected”. He was the Coming One, the Pre-existent One, the One Who was before the world was made. Christ was to be found in the Old Testament and Paul, being a Jew, begins there. In the New Testament we have Jesus the man, who is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament sayings about Him, Who was to come.
Christ is our authority, not so much as a man but as God manifest in the flesh. If you consider Him only as man you will never speak about Him with authority. Though Paul starts his epistles with his authority as an apostle, he should not be considered authoritarian, but authoritative because his authority is based on Christ Jesus, the Christ of eternity and the Jesus of this time.