About Jesus - Steve Sweetman

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Choosing Between Conflicting Authorities
(Matthew 28:18 - Acts 4:19 - 20)


Just prior to His return to Heaven Jesus told His apostolic representatives that all authority, both in Heaven and on earth, had been given to Him.  Based on this historical fact Jesus commissioned His apostles to go to every ethnic people group and make disciples for Him (Matthew 28:18).  I wonder if the Apostle Peter in a burst of enthusiastic self confidence might have jumped to his feet and yelled out; "Right on Jesus.  Let's go for it.  Let's evangelize the entire world.  I'm with you all the way on this one Jesus."  


On an earlier occasion prior to His ascension Jesus told the apostles to stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit and His power into their lives (Acts 1:4 - 5).  On one occasion Jesus said go and on another occasion He said stay.  From this I learn that authority and power go hand and hand.  Authority without power and power without authority isn't all that effective in implementing what we have called The Great Commission.   


Within days after receiving the Holy Spirit powered ability to fulfill Jesus' commission the apostles encountered conflict.  The universal authority to which they submitted was being challenged by the local civil authority.  After healing a lame man Peter and John were arrested and ordered not to exercise their newfound power and authority, thus forcing them to choose between two conflicting authorities.    


Peter didn't hesitate in making his decision.  "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.  For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard (Acts 4:19 - 20)."  Understanding the consequences of his decision, Peter's newfound power enabled him to make the right choice.  From then on the apostles found themselves in a struggle with hostile civil authorities.   

A similar cultural hostility is emerging throughout the world today.  For those of us who are dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission we are beginning to be caught between two conflicting authorities.  Let this be our resolve. We will obey the civil authority as Romans 13:1 mandates, but, when we're caught between the two conflicting authorities, we will follow Peter's example and choose God rather than man. 


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