Many years ago, I was a member of the New York City Police Department’s Auxiliary Police force. Auxiliary Police are unarmed volunteers who patrol on foot, in police cars, or on bicycles with the goal of increasing the perception of police presence throughout the city. They wear basically the same uniform as regular officers, carry a straight wood baton, police radio, handcuffs, and other standard police equipment. Since they are not regular police officers, their authority is limited. But, as registered peace officers, they have the authority to make arrests for crimes that occur in their presence or, in the instance of crimes not occurring in their presence, by the direct order of a police dispatcher or regular police officer.

Authority is jurisdiction or control over people or places. All of us have someone or something to whose authority we must submit. Authority is also a power or a right that is given or delegated to people to carry out tasks that they don’t possess the authority to do on their own. The Bible tells us that all authority on earth is given by the ultimate Authority. It is given and established by God (Romans 13:1). When Jesus was brought before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, for questioning and did not speak, Pilate asked if Jesus understood that he had the authority to release Him or to crucify Him. Jesus pointed out that Pilate had no authority except what was given to him by God (John 19:10-11). All things were created through Jesus, including those who are in authority over others (Colossians 1:16), and so, all authority, both in heaven and on earth, comes from God. (Unfortunately, due to the existence of evil in the world, earthly authority is sometimes abused.)

God gives authority, or power, to His people. He gave Moses the power to perform signs and wonders before Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21). Jesus gave His disciples the power to cast out demons and to heal diseases (Luke 9:1; 10:19). God gave Stephen the power to perform signs and wonders among the people of Jerusalem (Acts 6:8). Jesus told us that He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth and He, in turn, has given us the authority to make disciples of all nations and to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-19). Through the Holy Spirit, all disciples of Christ receive power and have both the authority and the ability to spread the Gospel across the street and around the world (Acts 1:8). And, to those who receive Christ, who believe in Him and follow Him, God gives the right, the authority, to become children of God.

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