Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.   Romans 13:1-2, NIV (1978)


What do you think of this passage? I believe it is one that Christians better be giving a great deal of thought to, for we live in unsettled times. So, is God commanding us to obey our authorities no matter what? We better figure out the right answer to this question, because we will be judged someday by the One who will hold us to account for the that answer.


Do you think that most Americans even know who their supreme authority is when it comes to the laws of our land? Is it the law makers - from the national to local levels? Is it the executive branch, from mayors to governors to presidents - are they our final authority? Perhaps it is the judicial branch, from our municipal to federal judges, all the way to the Supreme Court?


The answer, of course, is all of the above when they agree with each other and the constitution, but what happens when they don't. Did you know that America is set up under a constitution that was designed to be the supreme law of the land, and that when the legislative and executive and judicial branches come into conflict with this document that they are no longer the proper authority? If you didn't know this, why not? Maybe it's because most schools have stopped teaching founding documents and founding principles.


I wonder why that is...


Here is something else to think about - something far more important. Who is the authority when it comes to religious matters? Is it the Pope, or your pastor, or your preacher, or maybe even your church elders? You may be surprised to hear this answer, but here it is: None of the above, unless they are in agreement with the Word of God. Since the religious groups mentioned are definitely not in agreement with each other, then there can be only one source when it comes to our final authority: The Bible!


If you didn't know this, why not? Maybe it's because most churches have stopped teaching the Bible.


I wonder why that is...


When the apostles were brought in before their authorities for preaching Jesus, they were asked why they were disobeying their orders not to preach about Christ any more. Their reply was instructive: They said, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).


So what's the point of all of this? Is it to create anarchy in the streets of America and in the churches of the land? Far from it! The reason that the founders made a final authority was to resolve the problems created by evil men, or by men who were ignorant of what their supreme authority really was. Where did they get the idea of a final, supreme authority? The founders were almost unanimously believers in Christ and students of the Word of God. And the Word of God has always indicated but one true Supreme Authority, and it has never changed.


So, for those who are struggling with which authority to obey, you can do one of three things. You can submit to whoever claims power, whether legitimate or otherwise. You can, by default, just go with the flow and not even think about it. Or, you can go with the proper authority of God and men. This will require an effort most are unwilling to give, because most men are lazy - that's how we got into the mess we are in today.


If you want to find out more about your proper governing authorities (at least for those who live in America), may I suggest three readings that will help? The first is the Declaration of Independence. The second is the Constitution. The third is the Federalist Papers, which are essentially an explanation of the founder's original intent for the Constitution.


Before you read these, though, may I suggest you start reading the Bible - wherever you may live - to find out about the true, Supreme authority? Without a working knowledge of the Bible, you cannot function as a Christian or as a citizen of a country that was founded on this very document.


Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "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, 18-20, NIV