Discipling the Powerful

Discipling the Powerful

Scripture: Acts 6:7, Romans 13:1-7, Mark 2:23-28
Date: 03/01/2014  Lesson: 9
"Jesus always sought to be redemptive. ... He was seeking the salvation of all people, even of those powerful and influential people who would eventually condemn Him to death."

The Truth About Mary Magdalene by Doug Batchelor

The Truth About Mary Magdalene by Doug Batchelor
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Welcome to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church. We're so happy you're joining us this morning. Wherever you are and however you are, you are welcome. So we've had showers of blessings this week in Sacramento, California. We were declared to be in a drought and God sent us the rain, amen? Amen.

So I hope you're ready to sing this morning. I hope you have your hymnals out. Our first hymn will be hymn #86 - 'how great thou art' - this is an oldie but a goodie. We'll sing the first, second, and fourth stanzas. This comes as a request from irene and denise in australia, doris in denmark, reinhard and ilse in germany, rianna in india, maisie and karl in mauritius, and jaime or probably jaime - in peru.

'How great thou art' - oh! And many people around the planet. We're sure this is a great request. So let's sing stanzas 1, 2, and . Amen. Wow, that just really touched me.

When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation, we will all proclaim how great thou art. Thank you for that request. If you have a request, whether it's an old song or a new that we've featured in the hymnal, visit us at 'saccentral.org'. We can take requests from anywhere in the hymnal. That's 'www.

saccentral.org'. Click on the 'contact us' link and we'll be happy to hear from you. So our next hymn - it's a new song but it's right on the page over - it's #87 - 'God who spoke in the beginning'. We'll sing the first, second, and third stanzas. This comes as a request from joyce in kenya, fiona in Massachusetts, and eugene in thailand.

If I just could - 'he who calls the earth to order gives His Word and it is done'. God who spoke in the beginning - we know from the Bible that he will speak in the end and he'll say, 'it is done'. Let's pray. Dear Heavenly Father, we're so thankful and blessed that you spoke us into existence. We know that you are the author and the finisher of our faith and we ask that, in faith, you will keep us holy and true to Your Word.

This morning - this Sabbath - we also ask that you open our hearts to - to really accept and hear what the holy spirit has to convict of us. We seek the Holy Spirit to be with our speaker this morning as well. Thank you for loving us. We love you. In Jesus' Name we pray.

Amen. Our lesson study will be brought to us this morning by Pastor Doug Batchelor. Morning. Thank you to our musicians. Thank you kula, jennifer and the others - our pianist - that was enjoyable.

I appreciated that. Inspiring. How is everybody? Welcome to any visitors we may have here at central church. We're glad you're here and trust that you find we're a friendly group. And I also want to welcome the extended class that is studying with us via the internet or satellite or what other mechanism you might be listening through.

And we're continuing in our study dealing with the subject of discipleship and in just a moment we'll get to lesson #9, which is our lesson for today, but before we do, as is generally true, we have a free offer and the offer today is called 'the armor of God'. It's a booklet that talks about Ephesians chapter 6 - what that armor represents, how do we put on that armor of God to protect us in the daily battles of life? And we'll send it to you free if you ask and you promise to read it. And it's offer #173. When you call this number: -study-more - that's 866-788-3966 - and ask for offer #173 read it and share it with somebody else. Good study on the armor of God.

In our lesson we're talking today about the powerful - 'discipling the powerful'. You'll remember last week we talked about the rich and the famous and this kind of goes along with that and now we're going to be talking about the powerful. And we have a memory verse that comes from acts 6, verse 7. And this is from the new revised standard version in your lesson - acts 6, verse 7 - if you would say it along with me then I appreciate the help. Are you ready? "The Word of God continued to spread, the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

" Now that really is an amazing statement because just about everything else you read about the priests and the early church talks about them resisting the faith, trying the disciples, plotting and scheming against Jesus and the apostles - and then all of a sudden it says 'and a great many of the priests believed'. You're going 'wow, that seems out of character'. These were the ones that were - seemed to be the most rabid enemies of the cause along the way, but in the way the disciples conducted themselves and the apostles, something was happening in their hearts. You know, so often we resent authority and we feel like, you know, sometimes authority is abused. You've heard the expression, 'power corrupts.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely' and it is true that authority is often abused. And even in recent years and during some of the political upheavals we had people protesting in the cities against the 'one percenters'. What are they talking about when they say 'the one percenters'? They're talking about the rich and the powerful, right? And there was great resentment about the abuse of power and the people that have the stocks and the people that have the banks and the people that have the reins of government and - is there abuse? Yes. But there's not only abuse among the rich, there's abuse among the poor. Wherever you've got people you've got sin.

And so yes - but does that mean that Jesus is not interested in reaching people in positions of authority and power? Of course he is. And you'll see in the ways the apostles, the disciples, the Lord himself, and we'll even look at some old testament examples - in what they said to these people in positions of power and authority, they were trying to be redemptive. So while it is true it is harder for a rich man - and often riches and power go together, right? Because money often brings a certain kind of power - while it is true it is harder for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God than for a camel to get through the eye of a needle, the disciples said, 'wow, who then can be saved?' And Jesus said, 'these things that are impossible with men are possible with God. And so we've got to be careful not to write off those that may be in these positions - say, 'well, they're rich and they're powerful so they're automatically lost.' Is it more difficult sometimes? Yes. Because, you know, when you don't have those resources and you don't have that power and that control, you start turning to God in desperation.

Some of us pray for our daily bread just because we're told to but we don't really worry about our daily bread. Then there are those in the world that really lean on the Lord from day to day to get their bread, right? Someone was asking a rabbi, 'why did God give the bread from heaven six days a week? Why didn't he just give them a year's supply and make it last? Couldn't he have done that?' And the rabbi answered by saying, 'there was a king that gave his son an allowance every year but he noticed that the crown prince only came to see him once a year - when it came time to get his allowance. So wanting to have more of a relationship with his son, he decided to give him his allowance every day and he had to come to him every day. So sometimes the Lord makes people struggle from day to day because they really feel their dependence, but people who have wealth and power, they often don't feel their need of God. They're trying to figure things out on their own and it is true it's harder sometimes to reach these people, but 'what is impossible with men is possible with God.

' Does the Bible have examples where the Lord reached people in positions of power through his disciples? Did the pharaoh of Egypt have dreams from God? Did God speak to him through Joseph? Did the King of Babylon have dreams from God? Did God speak to him through Daniel? Did the King of persia have Daniel also speak to him? Darius - one was nebuchadnezzer the other was darius. Did the King of persia have Esther discipling him and later mordecai? Did Jesus speak to pilate? Did Paul speak to agrippa and berniece? And did John the baptist speak to herod? You can just go through the Bible. Did Paul speak to nero? You can go through the Bible and see many, many, examples where God brought his people into positions where they were able to be redemptive and speak to - and you could say disciple people who had great power - some of the great leaders of the world. And so while we're studying the theme of discipleship, let's remember that God would have us know how to reach people in positions of authority. Alright, first let's set the ground rules.

Jeremiah 9:23 and 24 - a verse I think most of us are acquainted with - I love this passage - "thus says the Lord, 'let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the Lord." So here the Lord is giving a Scripture to the rich man and the wise man and the powerful man. Why? Because he wants them to trust in him, not trust in their power and their riches. Now, our lesson tells us, of course - respecting authority. We probably ought to talk about this too.

Not only be discipling and be redemptive to authority, but what should be the Christian's attitude about those in authority? While I'm thinking about this, let's figure out where our microphones are. We've got the mic on the right and one on the right - my right, your left. Who's got a mic over here somewhere? Okay. We want to look up - somebody's got a slip - it says Luke 20, verse 25. Who has that? Just it's - over here? Okay, we'll get you a microphone.

We want you to be ready. Someone has Mark 13:9. Who's got Mark 13:9? Did someone get that? Alright, we'll give the mic back to you afterward. Alright, Romans 13:1-7, "let every soul be subject to the governing authorities." - Does that chafe you a little bit to think about that? Let me say that a different way. Let every soul be subject to the government.

Isn't that what he's saying? Governing authorities. Don't panic yet, but that's what it says. - "For there is no authority except from God," - does Daniel say God sets up Kings and takes them down? - "For there's no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.

Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good," - obey the laws of the land, in other words - "and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain;" - a modern translation: he does not carry the ticket book in vain. He does not carry a pistol in vain. And, while the Bible tells Christians in our relationships with each other we turn the other cheek and we love and we forgive, that is not a command for government authorities.

The government authority command is 'eye for eye, tooth for tooth, foot for foot, hand for hand, life for life.' You understand the difference? One is a civil law, one is an interpersonal law. What would happen to the government if they said, 'well, you know, if your neighbor knocks out your tooth just say, 'oops'. Just - you can't do that. There needs to be penalties for disobeying and God establishes that there are civil governments to keep order in society. This is not a verse that's saying that the Lord approved of adolf hitler.

It's not saying that he approved of some of the terrible despots and dictators that have terribly abused power. He's talking about typically there are governments in society - there are policemen, there are laws, there are soldiers - to maintain order and if you follow the rules you'll be praised by the same, but they have authority that must be respected. I know some of the laws seem unjust, but if those laws do not require you to violate a law of God, you've got to keep it. Right? I mean, let's face it, there are some laws I just think are the - oh, don't get me started. You know why there are so many laws? You don't have a lot of laws for a moral people.

The more immoral a people become, the more laws you need. You know every new law on the books - you know why it's there? Because somebody did something really stupid and they had to make a law to keep people from doing it. Do you know there's a law on the books that says you're not supposed to put a skunk in your boss' desk? Now don't you think there's a story behind that law? What do you think brought about that story? Well, I'm just assuming. I don't know what the story is, but I'm guessing somebody put a skunk in their boss' desk. They've got all these really bizarre laws and every time you read some of these laws you go, 'I know how that was formed.

' But the more lawful the people are - if you've got a law inside - if you've got the law of God inside and you love your neighbor and you love God and you follow the golden rule 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you', we would have very few laws. I know a family - when our kids were little - they said, 'we've got three rules for our kids.' 'Three? You've got it down to three?' 'Yep, three rules.' 'What are they, we need to hear this.' 'Don't do anything that will hurt anybody else. Don't do anything that will hurt God. Don't do anything that will hurt yourself.' And whenever they told them about why they should or shouldn't be doing something, they always brought it back to this principle: this will hurt somebody else. This will hurt God.

This will hurt you. If people really lived by those simple rules - oh no, I left one out. Don't do anything that will hurt somebody else, don't do anything that will hurt yourself and don't do anything that will hurt some thing. I threw in God there, but they were talking about our rules down here. So sometimes you do something that - 'why can't I color on the walls?' 'Well, it hurts the walls.

' Right? You've got to explain that stuff. And so those three rules sort of - they encompass everything. So, back to - back to Romans 13 - "for rulers are not" - I'm in verse 3 - "rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good.

But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake." - You don't just obey the law because you might get punished, but you want to do the right thing socially - "for because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor." Alright, we're going to read Luke 20, verse 25. Are we ready for that? Over here. Go ahead.

"And he said to them, 'render therefore to caesar the things that are caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.'" Does the Lord want us to pay our taxes? Should Christians pay their taxes? Who said that last verse? It's red letter. Jesus said, 'render to caesar the things that are caesar's.' I'm thankful that we have paved roads. And while some of the roads in town are better than others, I've been to countries where the roads are bad to nonexistent because the taxes are misapplied and they don't use them on the roads. I don't like writing that check to uncle sam but I'm thankful I live in a free country where soldiers who are supported by our taxes have kept us free. I don't like paying those county taxes but I'm glad I have water at my door - at least for a little while, we're rationing now - and someone picks up the garbage every week.

I've been in cities where they don't pick up the garbage. You know what I'm saying? And so we might grumble and complain and typically, whenever you have an organization and you've got a government, there's going to be waste. Some of it will be misused and some of it will be spent poorly and you've just got to know that when you pay your taxes. Do I try to take advantage of every honest tax law there is to keep as much of my money as I can? Yes! I don't want - I mean, if you want to give extra you're all free to do that but, of course, you want to take advantage of the benefits and the laws that say that you're able to keep a certain amount of your hard-earned money but you shouldn't break the law. Is it a sin to speed? Oh, you all got quiet.

Well let me tell you what, I've got - and I say this by permission not by commandment. You've got God's law and then you've got government's law. You break God's law, the penalty is very serious. If you break a government law, you need to be willing to pay the penalty of the government - that's what we just read. If you're going to drive over the speed limit, you might get a ticket.

I think there's also what they call 'the Spirit of the law' and 'the letter of the law'. Have you ever been on a freeway before where they've got one speed that is posted but everyone is going a little faster than that speed and if you go the actual speed you will cause a wreck. It's just not safe. You know what I'm talking about? So I think God wants us to use common sense. And, now that was not an endorsement to speed.

I'm just saying there's a difference between the law of God and the civil laws and if you break the civil laws, be prepared to face the civil penalty. Okay, let's move right along then. So why don't we talk for a moment - someone look up for me Mark 13:9 - I think that was next. And - do you have your microphone? Alright - and before we do that, I want to read something to you about authority, biblically. If we're going to talk about authority it would be good to understand it.

The new testament word for authority is 'exousia'. It means 'rightful and unimpeded power to act; a valid inner authority; the possession or control of and the right to use power' whereas the word dynAmos -dunamis, it means 'physical power'. The Bible says Jesus has authority to teach - Mark 1:22 - to forgive sins, to cure sickness - Mark 9:6 - to judge - it's through the full authority of Christ in heaven and on earth that his disciples were able to teach, to heal the sick, to cast out evil spirits. He said, 'all authority is given unto me' and he then, ostensibly, gives it to us. Paul also cited his apostolic authority and warned others not to abuse their power.

Most importantly, it was the power of God The Father acting through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that made possible the ultimate authority over all powers human and super human. And, as the Word of God, the Scriptures are regarded as authoritative. And so, biblical authority is based on these Scriptures and principles as opposed to civil authority. Now, in Bible times if - when they were going through the wilderness and if you broke the Sabbath, what did they do? There's only one man that's mentioned but he was stoned. The people said, 'what do we do? What's the penalty?' God's very presence was there.

Shekinah glory was there. He was leading through the wilderness and God said, 'if you're going to sin in a high-handed way like that, right after I've given you my commandment, there's a death penalty.' Why don't we kill people for Sabbath breaking today? They also had stoning - remember, they brought the woman to Jesus for adultery. You ever seen anyone locally be stoned for adultery? We'd be missing a lot of people in our society. Most tv programs would be off the air if folks were stoned for adultery, right? When they were living under a theocracy - that's different from living under a monarchy or a democracy or various forms of government, and those governments implement the penalties and when they got into a monarchy, if the penalty for adultery was stoning, why didn't David stone himself? So, even under a monarchy they started being pretty soft on some of those laws. But God - 'to whom much is given, much is required' - when God's presence was with the Israelites right there in the wilderness, he expected the highest level of obedience and there was the highest penalty for disobedience.

Stealing - achan stole, what happened? Stoned. He and the accomplices in his family - stoned. It was very serious. So in our society today, different leadership. They act by different principles.

But, ultimately, the authority comes from God. Alright, so let's move along here. Read for us please Mark 13:9. Mark 13:9, "but watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and Kings for my sake, for a testimony to them.

" This statement that you will be brought before rulers and Kings for my sake - did that happen in the disciple's lives? It did. Will it happen again before the end? Has it happened through Christian history? Look at the story of the great reformers. Think about martin luther at the diet of worms. He stood before one of the most August assemblies of world leaders in europe and made a defense for the truth. And Jesus said he would arrange these appointments where you're - I had an experience this - a few months ago.

I was going to say this year but now we're in a new year. But less than a year ago I was at the supreme court and I was talking to a church leader there, not of our denomination, and he started asking me questions about the state of the dead and the Sabbath. And this person is on radio around the country and he and his wife - just having a real good Bible study. And the Lord brings you - I thought, 'wow, this is interesting. Here we are in the supreme court building having this Bible study.

' We were waiting for - they were giving us a tour of the chambers and we were waiting for our turn to go in and - God arranges appointments and he will arrange appointments for you. It's interesting how the Lord does that. You have examples of that - acts :13 - Peter and the apostles, they were fishermen and it says they were brought before the highest court in the country - the supreme court - the sanhedrin, "now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized they had been with Jesus.' Where did they learn to have this calm confidence and this boldness to share? I mean, most - those sanhedrin leaders, they were used to common people coming in and trembling before them when they were brought to stand trial and be threatened with excommunication or death or whatever the penalty was and Peter and the apostles were fearless. They said, 'wow, what a holy audacity.

Where'd they get that?' They'd been with Jesus. Acts 25:23, "so the next day, when agrippa and bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at festus' command Paul was brought in." And they said, 'you know, there's this - there's this former pharisee that is now a Christian and they nearly tore him limb from limb in Jerusalem and he was brought in' and they said, 'oh, I'd like to hear. He's one of these new Christians.' And here Paul is brought in and they said, 'yeah, and he's appealed to caesar. He's getting ready to go to rome and speak to caesar.' So Paul is brought in and here he's got - with all pomp and all great men of the city - and they're standing there saying, 'tell us what you believe.' And you can read about that there in acts 25 - he has an opportunity to witness before the Kings and the rulers and he actually is pleading for their souls. Paul is not trying to say, 'please let me out of jail.

' That's not what he's talking about. He is presenting Jesus to them and one of them says, at one point, 'Paul almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.' It's too bad he said 'almost'. He said, 'almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.' Paul says, 'other than these chains I wish that you were just like me, a Christian.' And so he was trying to disciple these rulers and be a witness to them. Another example: acts 6:15 - this is just before the stoning of stephen - "and all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel." And then, you know, one of the greatest new testament sermons that you're going to find anywhere is the presentation that stephen gives where he outlines the history of God's leading his people up to the time of Christ and they were so convicted that Jesus was the Christ that they plugged their ears. Can you imagine that? That if you went to the supreme court and you're making your defense and you're not cursing, you're not being rude, you're just reasoning with them and your logic is so strong and profound that all of a sudden the nine justices at the supreme court go, 'no!' And they plug their ears.

That's what they did. It says they gnashed on him with their teeth. That just means they went, 'oh no, we killed our Messiah.' And they took him out and they stoned him. They didn't even - you know, with Jesus they said, 'we've got to go through the proper channels' and they brought him to pilate, but they were so upset with stephen, they drug him right out and they just stoned him. And, of course, Paul - they laid his clothes down at Paul's feet.

But stephen had a chance to present the Gospel to those in power and authority. And was that a - when stephen did that, was that a significant historical prophetic event? That Marked the end of that -year prophecy where the Gospel that had been preached three and a half years from Christ's anointing up until his death, it says that he would preach another three and a half years through those who heard him - stephen being one of those who heard him personally - and he made - he was chosen to make that final presentation to the Jewish leaders as a nation and at that point, when they plugged their ears that sent a message about how they were responding to the Gospel. Officially, as a people, the curtain was going down on that nation then. Of course, the temple was destroyed in 70 ad. Alright, pray for the authorities.

Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes - will rogers - any of you remember here some of the wit and humor of will rogers - the humorist? And he said, 'we ought to have a spaghetti dinner for congress - they'll supply the meatballs.' Because we hear about some of the things that happen in government and then when you read in the Bible that we're supposed to pray for those in leadership. What we pray sometimes is you want to heap coals of fire on their head when you hear some of the things that happen in government. And the politics and the shenanigans and the jostling and the positioning and the grandstanding and the spin and all the stuff that happens in politics that, when it comes time to vote, you want to be good citizens so you sort of hold your nose and you vote. But the Bible says we should pray for those in those positions of leadership.

You can read here in 1 Timothy - someone look up for me - let me just find this microphone - Ezra :10 - who has that verse? Over here, let's get you a mic and you'll be next. Ezra 6 verse 10. Timothy 2, verses 1 and 2, "therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for Kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all Godliness and reverence." Now why do we pray for those that are in authority - presidents and Kings? Why do you pray for them? A few reasons: one, that they might be saved because they're people that Jesus died for, right? Another reason is that they govern righteously so that you can have freedom and peace - he includes that there in the verse - "that we might live a quiet and peaceable life." Have you ever thought that we might have turmoil in our society because we're not praying for the people in leadership? Paul's making a connection there. Pray for them that they make good decisions. And another reason is you pray for them that the Gospel will stay free.

Those in positions of leadership can cause a lot of problems for the proclamation of the Gospel. I put it on my Facebook page yesterday that the magistrates in england have summoned the president of the mormon church - you know the president of the mormon church is also the prophet of their church - because they're saying that they believe that there are certain teachings of the mormon church that are not true and that they are teaching things that are not true and getting funds - people are supporting the church with money - and so they found a law that's on the books that has to do with fraud and they're applying it now to a religion and the Judges are going to determine whether they think the mormon faith is true. This is very serious. By the way, he's being summoned. That means that he could - theoretically, he could be extradited to appear in this court in england on behalf of all mormons.

Or the mormon religion, if they don't cooperate, could be outlawed in england or, if he doesn't come, when he travels to england he could be arrested for neglecting a summons. That's very serious. The reason it's serious - while I would respectfully disagree with my mormon friends and their theology - it's serious because who could be next? If the government starts saying that we are going to examine the beliefs of the various religions and decide what we think is true and if you're raising monies to spread your religion and it's not true - if we deem it's not true - it's religio illicita - forbidden religion now. That's very serious that something like that would happen. Oh, I'd better not say that.

What I was going to say, but I thought it wasn't wise to say it, is that I thought it was interesting that so many of the churches in england are closing down - they're being replaced by mosques - that's a fact. But they don't have a problem with koran. I just thought that was interesting. Anyway, pray for those in authority. You're going to read for us Ezra :10.

Who has that? Over here. Ezra 6:10, "that they may offer sacrifices of sweet aroma to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the King and his sons." Now you know who wrote that? Not Ezra. Cyrus, the persian king sent a letter to Ezra - this is a quote from his letter. He's saying, 'pray for me.' It was very important to the Kings - they believed in God - that they had priests that they thought were good priests intercede for them and pray for them. Did you ever play chess? You don't have to admit it, but what were the pieces right next to the King and the queen? Bishops.

Because so many times through the history - I mean, even in Egypt you had the pharaoh and right next to him were the priests. And who did the pharaoh give Joseph for a bride? Daughter of a priest. And so there was a close relationship - priests were the ones who were tax free in the kingdom. And so they would ask the priests to intercede. First and foremost, your big job was to pray for the King.

Solomon came into power - what was his concern? 'Lord, I'm just a child. I don't know how to come in or go out.' He had great authority and power but he realized he needed God. Did David listen to the prophets that came to him? Yes he did. They had great respect for the prophets and the priests. So we're to pray.

There are people out there that - I don't know how much to say. I could tell you some very interesting stories. But one thing happened this week - I could tell you a lot of interesting stories - one, a little thing I'll share with you. I just - I don't know how to share these things without sounding any more pig headed than I am, but I was talking to jim gilley at 3abn this week - I hope he doesn't mind my sharing this. And he said, 'doug,' - he said - 'we did an interview with John ashcroft, who was the attorney general during the bush era and he said, 'now, is that bald guy going to be there?' And jim said, 'we've got a lot of bald guys, what are you talking about?' He said, 'is that guy Batchelor - he's not going to interview me' - he said - 'he's too fast.

' And the only reason I'm telling you is to know - here's someone who's a former attorney general - he still has a consulting company in Washington dc - and he's watching the programs. So these people out there, they're searching - they're praying just like everybody else, amen? Alright, John 19, verse 8, "therefore, when pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid," - if you're pilate - he was in a position of power and judgment, he's got to make a decision, but his wife sends him a letter that says, 'have nothing to do with that righteous man' and then he became a little concerned and he said to Jesus, "'where are you from?' But Jesus gave him no answer. Then pilate said to him, 'are you not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify you, and power to release you?' Jesus answered, 'you could have no power at all against me unless it had been given you from above.'" - Now that's a very interesting statement. Jesus is looking pilate in the eye, unshaken, he says, 'you don't have any power over me.' I mean, think about it. Here he's talking to the one who made the world.

Pilate is talking to the one who made the universe. He said, 'don't you know I've got power over you?' Jesus said, 'no, you've got it backwards. You don't have any power over me. You couldn't have any power that isn't allowed.' Jesus said, 'you don't take my life. I'm laying it down.

' But he - notice that Christ, in that statement, he does say, 'it is being given you.' Power has been given you. These people in power, some of them abuse it, but they're being given the power by God. People in positions of preaching or teaching - that's power - but, you know, it's a dangerous power and the Bible says you ought to take it up very carefully because 'to whom much is given, much is required' and James says teacher and preachers and people in power will give a more careful account of what they say and what they do. That's one reason to pray for those in positions of authority. It can be frightening.

Alright, acts 23 - someone look up for me Matthew 7:28 - who has that verse? Right over here? Matthew 7:28 - we'll get to you in just a moment. I'm going to read acts 23:1-5. Paul is now being tried at the sanhedrin and he says, "then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, 'men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.' And the high priest ananias" - you know who that high priest is? He was The Son-in-law of caiphus that tried Jesus and had him executed. He's still in power during this time when Paul is tried and that - now he's the high priest completely. Caiphus had died at this point - "commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.

" - Can you imagine going to court and you make a statement - you're not being rude, you just say, 'I've lived in good conscience before God' and the judge says, 'strike him on the mouth.' - I was in court one day and I said something - just made a simple correction of somebody who was speaking - I was sitting right next to them - and oh boy, the judge jumped right out and they gave a wrong date, inadvertently, and the judge jumped right on me and said, 'did I ask you anything? Don't speak.' But nobody punched me in the mouth. And so, Paul, he knew that wasn't even legal back then. The high priest "commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him," - Paul said to the high priest - "'God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?'" And everybody took a big breath. They went 'ohhhh, Paul is reviling the high - he's correcting' - and he was right too - 'Paul is rebuking the high priest.

' "And those who stood by said, 'do you revile God's high priest?'" - And Paul - you realize Paul says, 'I've got a thorn in my side.' You know what Paul's thorn probably was? Remember when he was blinded after he saw Jesus? Then, eventually the scales fell from his eyes - he could see, but he could never see very clear from far away. That's why Paul had people writing his letters for him. He couldn't see. That's why he always traveled with a companion. Paul couldn't see.

And when he was in this court room and he said, 'are you commanding me?' Because he heard somebody say, 'strike him on the mouth.' Paul's going, 'you whitewashed' - and they said, 'you're reviling the high priest.' He's going, 'oh, I didn't know it was the high priest.' But the reason Paul said that - and then he quotes the Scripture and Paul says, 'I'm sorry, it is written, 'you shall not speak evil against the ruler of your people.' And so he said, 'I apologize. I shouldn't have said that. I didn't realize who it was.' So we're to respect the rulers of the people, respect their position. One of the hardest things for me - you know, I went to military school about three years. Once, when I was five to six years old, and then I went back to military school when I was eleven to thirteen - New York military academy - and, for me, it was military school.

At that point the vietnam war was going on, I was done with the military. Fortunately I was never drafted. By the way, that's part of the reason I went up to the cave - in case I was drafted - but by that time they'd stopped the draft. And - but I was so frustrated because I often had people over me - that had authority over me - whether it was a corporal, sergeant, captain - that were telling me what to do - and these were kids - you know, I was a kid, but in military school kids had rank too. And I knew - at least I thought - I was ten times smarter than they were and they would give me orders and I had to listen to them or they would pull rank.

You ever heard that expression? They'd pull rank. And so one thing you have to learn when you're in the military is sometimes you've got to listen to people, because of their authority, even though you think they're doing it all wrong. When you're on the front lines during a battle and the sergeant says 'charge' you don't have a committee meeting, right? A military can't operate that way where you say, 'let's take consensus right now. Let's do a straw poll.' When they say 'charge' you charge even if you think it's a suicide mission, you've got to learn to obey orders or you can't have a military. And so it's that way in the church.

It's that way in the world. You need to respect those that have authority. And it doesn't mean you never question, but the Bible shows that Paul did that. Esther 9 - oh, wait a second, I was going to have someone read Matthew 7:28 and 29 - where's that? Yes. "And it happened when Jesus had finished these words the crowd were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

" The teaching of Jesus was done with authority. Now, when it uses the word 'authority', not only did Jesus have authority from God, that meant he taught them with a voice of authority and he said, 'this is what the Bible says. This is what the truth is.' Whereas the scribes, they would say, 'well, rabbi so and so, he thinks it means this.' And 'rabbi so and so, he thinks this verse means that.' And 'you know, nobody can be exactly sure.' And the scribes had everybody in confusion and they were quoting all these different rabbis and nothing was definite and you could kind of all draw your own conclusions. You know, at Amazing Facts, we're an evangelistic organization and it is very important that when an evangelist teaches, that he does it with authority based on the Word of God, because if you're wanting people to change their lives - if you're wanting people to take a stand - some of them may lose their jobs - some of them have to make radical changes. If you teach them in a wishy-washy way - 'well, it could mean this.

It could mean something else. I think it might mean this.' You're not going to get anywhere. Jesus taught with authorities - with authority - those that Jesus sent should go out with His Word, teaching with the authority that Christ has given. He said, 'all authority in heaven and earth is given to me. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations.

' Do we teach them timidly or with authority? We need to know what His Word says, but we should do it with confidence in what the truth is. If you don't - you're not confident about something being the truth then you're not prepared to teach it. You need to know what you believe. And then you can read in Esther :29 - it talks about this authority that she wrote letters. "Then queen Esther, the daughter of abihail, with mordecai the jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about purim.

" That's when they finally had this day of deliverance for the Jewish people. She wrote - the King gave Esther his signet ring and Esther and mordecai were able to write letters in the name of the King. Now is that authority? Have we been given authority by our king? If you've got the Word of God behind you, you've got that royal authority that comes from Jesus. Matthew 21, verse 23, "now when he came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted him as he was teaching, and said, 'by what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?' But Jesus answered and said to them, 'I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: the baptism of John - where was it from? From heaven or from men?'" - They had a huddle - "and they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'if we say, 'from heaven,' he will say to us, 'why then did you not believe him?' But if we say 'from men,' we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.'" - So they came back to Jesus and they answered, "'we do not know.' And he said to them, 'neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.'" See, that further illustrates that they would say, 'well, we're not sure.' They were always not sure because they didn't want to tie themselves down. You know, I think that, as a believer, you need to take some time to study what you believe.

When you're not sure, study it out and make a decision. Get rooted and grounded in your faith because some day we may be asked to lay down our lives for what we believe and we need to have an authority regarding what our convictions are that we are certain about what we believe. Case in point: Daniel 3:16-18, "shadrach, meshach, and abednego answered and said to the King, 'o Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us from you hand, o king. But if not, let it be known to you, o king, that we do not serve your Gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.

'" 'Wait a second. Pastor Doug, you just told us we're supposed to obey the laws of the land.' Didn't I say that? As long as the laws of the land do not conflict with the law of God. Shadrach, meshach, and abednego were three of the most faithful citizens in the Babylonian government. They were seeking the good of the people, they were praying for the King, they were obeying the laws, they probably didn't even speed in their chariots. But when Nebuchadnezzar asked them to bow down and to worship the golden image, they said, 'we must follow a higher authority.

Your authority is being vetoed by the authority of God that says, 'do not worship images.' There's a statement in your lesson, let me read it to you - it's from the testimonies, volume 6, page 402 - "the people of God will recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment and will teach obedience to it as a sacred duty within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, the Word of God must be recognized as above all human legislation. 'Thus saith the Lord' is not to be set aside for 'thus saith the church' or the state. The crown of Christ is to be uplifted above the diadems of earthly potentates." So a law from some church or a government, if it conflicts with the law of God, the law of God always comes first. Mark 2, verses 23 through 28, "now it happened that he went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went his disciples began to pluck the heads of grain.

And the pharisees said to him, 'look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?' But he said to them, 'have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?' And he said to them, 'the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore The Son of man is also Lord of the Sabbath.'" Jesus was constantly in dispute with the religious leaders and the priests. So where did he refer them? 'Thus saith the Lord' - 'have you not read' - constantly Jesus was taking them back to their own teachings. Why? He was trying to be redemptive. He wasn't just trying to prove them wrong and embarrass them, he was trying to get them to think because Christ was trying to disciple those in positions of leadership.

And then we read also earlier, as a result of that, a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith as well. Last thought - I'm running out of time here - the centurion. Have you noticed - the centurion typically had a hundred roman soldiers under his charge and sometimes there were other contingents of slaves that were under them, so they often had a lot of power. They were considered, usually, to be the most faithful, honest, hard working, sincere people in the roman army because of just where their responsibilities put them. Can you think of some good centurions in the Bible? Did Paul have a centurion that saved his life? Julius.

Was a centurion at the cross of Christ that said, 'truly this was The Son of God'? Was there a centurion that Peter preached to by the name of cornelius that was an honest man? And then there was the centurion that we read about where Jesus heals his servant. Christ is on his way to heal his servant and he hears about it and he says, 'you don't need to come to my house because I'm a man that has authority and I tell people 'do this and do that' and they do it. You have authority. Just speak and my servant will be healed.' And what did Jesus say? 'Assuredly I say to you I have not found such great faith in all Israel.' And was that centurion's prayer answered? His servant was healed. So we could take a lot more time and talk about authority.

It's a very import subject. Since we're talking about centurions, we're going to offer you 'the armor of God'. And if you'd like a free copy of this book, call the phone number, 866-study-more - -788-3966. Ask for offer #173. We'll send it to you.

Please read it when you do. But with that our time is up for Sabbath school this week. God willing we'll study together again next week.

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