Speaking On Daddy’s Authority
I had a really interesting interaction with my kids that reminded me of a powerful truth from Scripture. My son, Alexander, was playing outside and I needed him to come inside. I was a bit busy working in my office so I asked my daughter, Brionna, to yell out to him and ask him to come inside.
I listened as she ran to the door, opened it, and yelled out, “Alexander, come inside!”
I barely overheard my son in the distance respond back, “Why?”
Without hesitation she hollered back, “Daddy said to come inside.” Then there was silence for a bit. I wasn’t sure if my son would listen to my daughter’s command so I said to my daughter, “Is he coming?”
Gleefully she responded, “Yes! He’s listening to me.” I had to chuckle a little when my daughter said her older brother was listening to HER. He was most certainly not doing anything because SHE said to do it. No, the only reason he was obeying the command was because the command, apparently, came from me. My daughter was speaking on Daddy’s authority and that made my son take the command more seriously. This reminded me of the powerful reality that we, as children of God, are ambassadors who preach the Gospel on his authority.
Ambassadors for Daddy
I have been preaching through the Gospel of John in my church and we recently discussed John 12:49 where Jesus says that he speaks not on his own authority, but on the authority of the Father. To reject his words is not merely to reject him, but to reject God the Father himself.
As believers in Christ, we actually have a very similar and unique position. Note what it says in 1 Corinthians 5:20:
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”
The word “ambassador” is a pretty neat word. It carries the meaning of a messenger with authority. It’s not just a person who carries a message but one who carries the authority of the messenger on that particular matter. Albert Barnes writes this:
“Ministers are ambassadors for Christ, as they are sent to do what he would do were he personally present. They are to make known, and to explain, and enforce the terms on which God is willing to be reconciled to people. They are not to negotiate on any new terms, nor to change those which God has proposed, nor to follow their own plans or devices, but they are simply to urge, explain, state, and enforce the terms on which God is willing to be reconciled.”
As ministers of the Gospel we are called to preach on the authority of the One who sent us, namely Jesus Christ. As ambassadors we can speak on the authority of Jesus Christ himself. That being said, we are not, as Barnes points out, to preach on our own authority or insert any new terms or conditions. This is why John Gill writes:
“…we are ambassadors for him; we come with full powers from him, not to propose terms of peace, to treat with men about it, to offer it to them, but to publish and proclaim it as made by him: we represent him, and God who made it by him…”
We have full authority, for example, to boldly proclaim to men, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” We have every right and responsibility to proclaim, “If you do not believe, you shall be condemned.” We have the right, responsibility, and authority not because of who we are, but because of who Christ is. If it were not for him, and his reconciliation of us, we would have no right to bear his message. However, because he has reconciled us to himself, we implore others as if Christ himself were imploring them to be reconciled to him.
My Daughter, Our Example
As I saw the ambassador principle playing out among my children, I was profoundly struck by its truth. The more I pondered this whole scene three things stood out to me.
First, if my daughter had not obeyed me, she would have been disciplined. On my own fatherly authority, I commanded my daughter to do something. I asked her to obey me. I asked her to carry a message to my son. She could have said, “No Daddy, Alexander won’t listen to me.” She could have just ignored me. If she had, I would have likely disciplined her and asked her why she would not obey her father.
Fellow believer, you are called to be an ambassador for Christ. Are you obeying your heavenly Father by acting as his ambassador? He has reconciled you to himself and given you the message of eternal life to carry to the uttermost parts of the earth. Are you obeying him?
Second, it occurred to me that if my son had not obeyed my daughter, I would have disciplined him, not her. If she was faithful in carrying my message on my authority to the person I commanded her to take it to, his obedience became contingent not on her, but on him. If he rejected her, he would have to ultimately answer to me. If he had not listened, she might have felt like she had failed me. Truthfully, though, she would not have failed me at all. She would have done exactly what I asked of her and nothing else was her responsibility.
Fellow believers, if we faithfully carry the message of the Gospel to a lost and dying world, and they reject the message, we needn’t despair as failures. The burden of message acceptance is not ours to bear. That is on the heart and soul of the person who hears and rejects the message. We have been called to be faithful ambassadors who implore the lost to be reconciled to God. If they are not reconciled, we have still been faithful.
Third, and finally, it struck me that my son’s obedience to her command, which came from me, brought her joy. She said, “Daddy, he’s listening to ME.” Yes, he was heeding the message she brought, but my son was mostly listening to his daddy, not the messenger. Still, the joy that comes from seeing someone obey the message is shared by the messenger. If an ambassador is asked to go and negotiate a peace treaty on behalf of a king, he will experience great joy if he is successful in negotiating the treaty. He will jubilantly stand before his king and say, “I have negotiated the peace treaty,” when in reality the terms and conditions were all the king’s to begin with.
Conclusion: We Are Ambassadors, Let’s Act Like It
We have been reconciled by God to be ambassadors of reconciliation to others. It is as though God is imploring others, through us, to be reconciled to him. We need to start taking this role and responsibility seriously. It is not on us to make anyone believe the message of the Gospel, but we have been commissioned to carry the message. Our faithfulness to that responsibility does, in fact, depend on us. If we are ignoring our heavenly Father in this matter he has every right to hold us accountable as a good father holds his sons and daughters accountable (cf. Hebrews 12).
If we are faithful to this responsibility, there will be those who reject the message and those who accept it. Those who reject it will ultimate have to face our daddy on Judgment Day. However, when some accept the message, we will share in the great joy that comes from seeing one who was lost be reconciled to our Heavenly Father. Fellow believers, we are ambassadors for Christ—let’s start acting like it!