Part two how to be God’s deputy authority
The kind of person God uses to be His deputy authority
Submission to deputy authority and being a deputy authority
God’s children must learn to know authority and find out to whom they should submit. Wherever we go, the first thing we should ask is whose authority should we be under. As soon as we move to a place, we should not expect to be the master, asking others to submit to us. Instead, we should be like the centurion, who told the Lord Jesus, “For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me” (Matt. 8:9). Here was a man who truly knew authority. He could submit to authority; therefore, he was able to be a deputy authority himself. We have said that God upholds and maintains the whole universe with His authority. He also begets His children with His authority (John 1:12) and binds them together with His authority. Therefore, if a man is independent, individualistic, and free from any God-appointed deputy authority, he is an outsider as far as God’s administration over the whole universe is concerned. He cannot get along with other children of God, and as such, he cannot accomplish God’s work on earth today. God has established deputy authorities in the church; the church is built up and maintained by the authority of God. For this reason every child of God should look for the authority to whom he should submit so that he can coordinate with others in a proper way. Unfortunately, many people have failed in this point.
If we do not know the object of our faith, we cannot believe in anything. If we do not know the object of our love, we cannot love anyone. If we want a person to believe in something, we first must show him the object of his faith. If we want a person to love someone, we first must show him the object of his love. In the same way, if we do not know the object of our submission, we will not know how to submit. In order to teach a person submission, we first must let him know the person to whom he should submit. There are many deputy authorities in the church to whom we should render submission. When we submit to them, we are submitting to God. Many people can preach submission, but they themselves cannot submit to any authority. We must be a person who submits to authority before we can be a deputy authority ourselves. Moreover, we cannot submit only to those whom we love; we have to learn to submit to all authorities over us. Even the policeman on the street is an object of our submission.
The need to encounter authority in a thorough way
There are many authorities in the church. They are over you, and you have to learn to submit to all of them. You have to learn to face all kinds of authority, and you must recognize authority in others. Once you encounter authority in a person, you have to learn to submit to that person immediately. You should not weigh him carefully and then decide if you should submit to him. If you consider whether or not a person is worthy of submission before you submit to him, you have only encountered the person himself; you have not encountered authority itself. If a man has not met authority, he can never be a deputy authority himself. If a man does not know how to submit to authority, he cannot be God’s deputy authority. Unless a man first deals with rebellion in himself, he does not know how to be an authority. Unless we first judge the sin of rebellion in us, we cannot know what submission is. God’s children should not be unorganized and tangled yarn or a mob of undisciplined people. If there is no testimony of submission among God’s children, there will be no church, and there will be no ministry and no work. We must realize that this is a grave problem. We must have a very serious dealing before the Lord, and must encounter the matter of authority in a thorough way. We have to learn to submit to one another, and we must learn to submit to deputy authorities. Only after that can we begin to learn to be a deputy authority.
Three requirements for deputy authorities
Today we will consider the kind of persons God uses to be His deputy authorities. In order to be God’s deputy authority, a person must fulfill three fundamental requirements (in addition to knowing God’s authority and submitting to His authority).
Recognizing that all authorities come from God
A deputy authority must remember that all authorities come from God. God is the One who has established all authorities. If there is any authority in a man at all, that authority comes from God. There is no inherent authority in a person, and no one can appoint himself to be an authority. Our personal opinions cannot become others’ law, and our own ideas, views, and proposals do not deserve others’ esteem; they are no better than those who are under us. We have to remember that all authority comes from God. In fact, the only authority that is authority at all is the authority that comes from God, and only such authority can claim submission from others. We can only ask the brothers and sisters to submit to the authority in us which comes from God. A deputy authority can only be a deputy to God’s authority. He cannot presume that he has any authority in himself just because he has become a deputy authority. This is a basic problem with us today. All deputy authorities must remember that they are merely God’s representative authorities; they have no authority in themselves.
No matter whether we are in the world, in the church, or in God’s work, we must always remember that we have absolutely no authority in ourselves. None of us have any authority in ourselves. We must remember that no one in the whole universe has authority except God. The authorities that we see today are but men executing God’s authority; there are no self-made authorities. Policemen merely carry out the law. Likewise, judges merely execute the law. They can only execute the law; they cannot legislate the laws. All the officers and authorities in this world are established by God and are there only to execute the law. They execute the law on behalf of God’s authority. They cannot institute any law by themselves. All authorities in the church today are likewise deputies of God’s authority. The reason we have authority is simply because we are representing God’s authority. There is no intrinsic element in ourselves that sets us apart from others or that gives us the right to be an authority.
A person becomes an authority because of his knowledge of God’s will, God’s mind, and God’s thoughts. One does not become an authority based on his own ideas or opinions, but through an apprehension of God’s will and desire. One cannot expect others to submit to his own will or opinion. The extent one represents authority depends on the extent of one’s knowledge of God’s will and thoughts. God appoints a person to be a deputy authority because such a person knows His will and His thoughts more than others, not because he has more suggestions, better ideas, or higher thoughts. Actually, this is the kind of people we are most afraid of in the church. They think that they have better ideas and opinions, and they assume to be the authority and impose themselves upon others.
Many young co-workers and saints have not learned the lessons; they do not know God’s will or thoughts. This is why God has placed them under you. As the authority to them, you have the responsibility to tell them God’s will and thoughts. Please remember that you have nothing in yourself that can claim submission from others. It is only when you become acquainted with God’s will that you can ask others to submit to the authority in you. Every time that you have to deal with someone, you must have the assurance from God that you understand His will and that you know what God wants to do in that instance. Once you become clear about the Lord’s way of dealing with the situation, you can act as the authority. Only then can you serve others with your authority. Without this you do not possess any authority to which others should submit.
No one who does not learn to submit to God’s authority or who is ignorant of His will can become God’s deputy authority. Suppose a man represents a company to negotiate business with others. He cannot make an offer according to his own ideas. He cannot make a promise based on his own likes, and he cannot make his own decision to sign a contract. He must first find out his manager’s plan and know what his manager wants him to say and under what circumstances and conditions he can sign the contract. In the same way, if a man wants to be God’s deputy authority, he must first understand God’s will and His way. Only then can he execute God’s authority. To be a representative authority, one must first be acquainted with the person whom he represents. He cannot have his own ideas, thoughts, or words. God’s deputy authority must first know God’s will. He cannot pass on an order to the brothers and sisters that God has not issued. Suppose you tell someone to do something, and suppose he has the chance to go to the Lord together with you to inquire of the matter. If God does not acknowledge what you have said to the brothers, you will be left representing only yourself, not God. This is why you have to understand God’s will and execute it on God’s behalf. If you do this, God will acknowledge what you do. You can have authority only when God acknowledges your decision. Anything that issues from yourself bears no authority whatsoever.
In spiritual matters, we have to learn to always climb higher and strike deeper. We must always seek for a deeper and richer knowledge of God’s ways and will. We need much revelation and learning. We need to learn many things and acquire all kinds of experiences. We have to see what others have not seen and touch what others have not touched. What we do must be based on what we have learned before the Lord, and what we say must be based on what we have perceived and experienced before the Lord. If we have sufficient experience before the Lord, and if we have sufficiently learned His ways, we will have the boldness to declare that this is what we know from God, that this is what we have learned of Him, and that this is what we have experienced in Him. When we do this, we will have authority. Without God, there is no authority. Those who have not seen anything before God have no authority before men. All authorities are based on our knowledge and learning before God. Some older ones may think that they can impose their ideas upon the younger ones. Some brothers may think that they can impose themselves upon the sisters, and some quick ones may think that they can impose themselves upon the slow ones. But such self-acts will never work. If you want to be an authority to others and want others to submit to your authority, the first thing you have to do is know authority yourself. You have to realize that you have no authority in yourself. What you should have is knowledge of God and an apprehension of His will. Only then can you be a deputy to God’s authority.
Learning to deny ourselves
The second basic requirement of a deputy authority is to deny himself. Before one is clear about God’s will, he should not open his mouth and should not exercise any authority. God’s deputy authority must not only know His authority on the positive side, but must learn to deny himself on the negative side. Please remember that neither God nor the brothers and sisters treasure your opinion. I am afraid that the only one who treasures your opinion in the whole world is yourself. If you think your opinion is the best, that God treasures your opinion, and that the brothers and sisters honor your idea, you are living in a dream. Do not be so foolish as to unilaterally impose your opinion upon others. We are afraid of those with much opinion, and we are also afraid of those with many ideas, those who like to be others’ counselors. We are afraid of men who are too subjective. Many people are very subjective, and they like to be counselors to others. They make proposals and plans for others in everything. The minute they are given the opportunity, they put forward their proposals. These ones can never be a president, a chairman, or a policeman. However, even though they may not be in certain positions, they think they know what those in such positions should do. They like to propose for others. As soon as they are given the chance, they open their mouth to express their ideas and air their opinions before others. Even if they are not given the chance, they still try to barge in for a word or two. If they cannot find an opportunity to speak in front of others, they will try to do it behind others. Please remember that God would never appoint anyone with a great deal of opinions, proposals, and views to be His deputy authority. We would not ask a person who loves to spend money to manage our bank account, because we do not want to suffer loss. In the same way, God does not ask a person who loves to express his opinion to be His deputy authority, because He does not want to suffer loss either.
The Lord must first thoroughly break our self before we can become His deputy authority. According to my personal observation, I have never seen God choose an opinionated person to be His deputy authority. Such a one must first go through God’s breaking and give up his interest in meddling in others’ affairs and acting as others’ counselors. God wants us to represent His authority, not replace His authority. It is true that we are like God in many ways. But He remains the sovereign One in His Godhead and position. His will belongs to Him alone; it is supreme and sovereign above everything else. He never seeks counsel from us, and He never wants us to be His counselor. This is why God’s deputy authority must not be subjective. Of course, in order to conduct business, there is the need for decisions and judgments. It does not mean that God will only use those who have no ideas, opinions, or judgments in anything. It means that we must be genuinely broken, our wisdom must be destroyed, and our opinions and proposals must be crushed before God can use us. The basic problem with many people is that by nature they are active in their mind; they speak a great deal and make many proposals. They are naturally clever and like to be others’ counselors. Such ones have to pray for mercy from God. They need a basic dealing and a basic breaking. This is not an empty slogan, a teaching, or a kind of imitation. A man must receive a fundamental dealing and breaking, and there must be an open wound; his own wisdom, opinion, and ideas must be crushed and broken. Such a person spontaneously will be free of his own thoughts and ideas. A man who has passed through God’s chastisement is one who lives in fear before the Lord. He will no longer dare speak carelessly. He will always be afraid of making mistakes. As long as God’s wound remains in a man, he will feel the pain the minute he moves, and no one will need to remind him of his wound.
If a man only knows the teaching of brokenness and is only putting on a performance by imitating others in keeping his mouth shut, his true nature will be exposed sooner or later. Some people are by nature talkative and opinionated. It is difficult to see them shut their mouth and not express their opinion. Such ones may pick up some teachings on brokenness and realize that they should not talk so much or make so many proposals. If they begin to imitate others and follow their example, their fig leaves soon will dry up (Gen. 3:7), and their underlying condition will be exposed. We cannot control ourselves with our will. If we try to control ourselves with our will, our true self will be exposed as soon as we are engaged in a heated discussion, and we will find ourselves confessing our sins to God again. We need nothing less than the killing of our self by God’s light. God has to allow us to bump against the wall until our skull is cracked and our bones come apart. We must go through an experience like that of Balaam in Numbers 22:25. God needs to inflict a wound on us so that as soon as we move again, we will feel the hurt and not dare make any more proposals. When a man is wounded, there is no need for others to exhort him to walk slowly; he spontaneously will slow his pace. This is the only way that will deliver us from our self. This is why I have often said that we need wounds. Others must find open wounds in us. There is no other way to go on except through a thorough confession and dealing before God.
Those who are the deputy authorities must learn not to propose any opinion of their own or express their own ideas. They must not have an addiction for meddling in others’ affairs. Some people think that they are the supreme justices; they think they know how to manage everything, whether it is things in the world, things in the church, or anything at all. They think that they know everything, and that they have an idea and a solution for everything. When others come to them, they gladly give away their advice. If others do not come to them, they still give away their advice freely like spreading the gospel. Such opinionated ones have never been disciplined; they have never gone through any severe dealings. They may have experienced some minor and superficial dealings, but their opinions, ideas, and methods still abound. They seem to be omnipotent and omniscient. Their opinions are like open merchandise in a department store. Such ones can never be an authority. Every deputy authority of God must have one basic qualification — they must not have an inclination for careless opinions or criticism. They should not even have murmuring opinions or unexpressed proposals in their heart. Only those whose self has been dealt with in such a way are qualified to be God’s deputy authority.
The need for constant fellowship with the Lord
Those who are God’s deputy authorities should possess a third qualification — they must have a constant and intimate fellowship with the Lord. There must not only be a communion, but a communication. Some are loaded with opinions throughout the day. These ones must learn to give up their opinions. Every time one has an opinion, he has to bring it to the Lord and find out if such an opinion is of the flesh or of God. In this way God will gradually reveal His heart’s desire to him. This is the basic need. The fundamental problem with many people is that they open their mouth without ever approaching God. They express their opinions loosely and speak for the Lord carelessly because they are far from God. The easier it is for a person to mention God’s name, the more it proves that he is far from God. Only those who are near to God have a fear of Him, and only these ones can feel the repugnancy of wild opinions. For example, many villagers here in Kuling are lumbermen. They can freely criticize the government and the leaders of our country. But in Nanking or Chungking (capitals in China) one does not hear criticism from the people. Even though people here speak of the president freely, if he came to Kuling, everyone would address him as “Sir” or “Mr. President” in a respectful way. No one would dare address him disrespectfully. In the same way, only those who are near to God have a fear of and respect for Him. They would not dare walk loosely or speak in the Lord’s name.
We must realize that fellowship is a basic qualification for being an authority. The more we come to the Lord and draw near to Him, the more we become conscious of our mistakes. We will see that many of the actions that we previously considered as right were actually wrong. The more we know God, the more things will appear different to us. There were things which we were so sure of ten or twenty years ago. What is our view of them now? Many times you may say to yourself, “Why was I so blind? Why was I so confident and so sure that I was right?” The same thing that seemed right before may be shown to be totally wrong today. Once you have met God face to face, you will no longer be so sure in your speaking, you will no longer be so self-confident, and you will begin to be afraid of making mistakes. If the things we were so sure of in the past can be found to be wrong today, what will happen to the things that we are so sure of today? Hence, if we are persons who are in constant fellowship with the Lord, we will never open our mouths rashly. The less a person knows himself, the more he will boast about what he knows. Loose speaking is a proof that one is far from God.
The fear of the Lord is not an outward performance. Only those who constantly come near to God can fear God. However, a wild person who has no control over himself is far from God. As soon as the queen of Sheba saw Solomon, there was no more spirit in her (1 Kings 10:4-5). But today something more than Solomon is here (Matt. 12:42). When we go before the Lord, there should be “no more spirit” in us; we should not dare speak His name lightly or open our mouth rashly. We should be like a servant waiting at the door, telling God that we know nothing. May the Lord deliver us from the sickness of speaking what we do not understand and making judgments on what we do not know. Sometimes we have to take action immediately, yet we are not a person in constant fellowship with God, and we make decisions in the spur of the moment. This is a big problem in many people. No problem is more serious than that of a servant of God speaking rashly when he is unsure of God’s will. It is indeed a big problem for a man to make judgments about a matter before he is even clear of anything before the Lord; such a one is never clear, yet he is ever speaking. We can be clear about God’s will only when we live before Him and draw near to Him all the time.
The Lord Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing from Himself except what He sees the Father doing, for whatever that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19). He also said, “I can do nothing from Myself; as I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will but the will of Him who sent Me” (v. 30). We have to learn to hear, to understand, and to see. All these abilities are derived from an intimate fellowship with the Lord. Only those who are living in the presence of God can listen, understand, and see. Only those who have learned the lessons can know God’s will, and only as they live in God’s presence can they speak to the brothers and sisters. When problems arise among the saints or in the church, these ones will know what to do. Unless a person practices this, he will be taking the name of the Lord in vain.
Please give me the liberty to say a frank word. The problem with many of God’s servants today is that they are too bold, or to put it in a stronger way, they are too reckless. They have never learned to listen to God’s word, and they have never seen any revelation or understood God’s will, yet they have the audacity to speak for God! Let me ask you: What kind of authority do you have in speaking? Who has given you authority? What makes you different from the other brothers and sisters? If you do not have the assurance that what you speak is God’s word, what authority do you hold? If I brought you and someone who has a dispute with you to the Lord, would you have the confidence to say that everything you have said was of the Lord? If God acknowledges your words, it would be all right. But if God does not acknowledge your words, what authority would you really have? You must remember that authority is deputized to you; it is not intrinsically yours. If you are not representing God’s authority, what right do you have to speak or work?
All of God’s deputy authorities must live before God and learn to fellowship with Him. You must be dealt with by Him, and there must be scars upon your body. When you speak to the saints or in the church, you must not insert your self into your speaking but must have the assurance that there is authority behind your words. Never be deceived to think that you have any authority in yourself. Never think that any authority has its source in you. You must forever remember that God is the only One who has the authority, and no one else. The Bible says clearly that all authority is of God.
If there is any authority in me today, such authority comes from God. I am only the channel through which authority flows. Other than this distinction, I am the same as everyone else; I am no different from the most foolish man. What sets me apart from others and gives me the authority is God, not anything in myself. Therefore, we have to learn to fear God and to fellowship with Him. This is not a light matter. We should tell the Lord, “I am no different from all the other brothers and sisters.” If God has arranged for us to bear some authority and learn to be a deputy authority, we have to learn to live before Him and have constant fellowship with Him. We have to ask Him to show us His heart’s desire. Only when we see something before God can we minister it to the brothers and sisters, and only then are we qualified to be a deputy authority.
Why do we use the word communication in discussing fellowship with God? It is because fellowship is not something that we can take care of once for all before the Lord; it requires that we live in the Lord’s presence continually. Communication is a lifelong exercise. We can learn some basic lessons once for all. But living in the presence of the Lord is a continual matter. Once we move away from God, authority becomes perverted, and the flavor changes. Hence, we have to live before the Lord continually and fear Him all the time. We should always bear in mind that we should be those who have passed through God’s judgment. Since God wants to use us, we must live in His presence all the time.
The above three items are the basic qualifications of a deputy authority. Authority is of God, and we are merely His deputies. All authority belongs to God. Therefore, man cannot be subjective and must deny himself. This is why we need to live moment by moment in fellowship with Him. Since authority belongs to God, we have no authority of our own. We are merely representatives. Authority does not belong to me; therefore, I cannot be subjective. I must live in fellowship. Once fellowship is cut off, authority is gone. Those who are in authority are placed in an awkward position — they cannot quit and they cannot relax. How very different this is from human concepts. No one who truly knows God would like to be an authority. To be a deputy authority is a great matter; it is a serious thing.
Not establishing one’s own authority
Since God is the One who establishes authority, there is no need for deputy authorities to try to build up their own authority. I know of a few brothers and sisters who were so foolish in the past that they thought they could direct others with their authority. They were trying to build up their own authority. This is foolish in the eyes of God. Hebrews 5:4 says, “No one takes the honor upon himself, but only as he is called by God.” The same is true with authority; no one can take authority upon himself. When God grants one to be an authority, he has authority. Hence, there is no need to demand obedience from others. If others insist on being wrong, let them be wrong. If others will not obey, leave them alone. If others want to take their own way, let them take their own way. We must never argue with others. If I am not appointed by God to be the authority, why do I have to demand obedience from others? On the other hand, if I am an authority appointed by God, why do I have to worry that others will not submit to me? If there is authority with me, others are disobeying God when they disobey me. So why do I need to be concerned with others’ disobedience? If authority is with me, others will be arguing with God when they argue with me. There is nothing more serious than this in the whole world. We do not need to force others to listen to us; we can give everyone the liberty to do what they want. If God backs up the authority, what more do we have to fear? Have you ever seen a king on earth backing up his ministers? No! However, if you are a deputy authority, God will sustain you, support you, and even back you up.
The more we know authority and the more open doors, revelation, and ministry we have, the more we will give others the liberty to take their own way. We must never speak one word to vindicate our own authority; rather, we should give others the full liberty. Others should come to us in as spontaneous a way as possible. If they do not want us to be their authority, or if they shy away from us, we do not have to force them to accept us. If there is authority in us, whoever desires the Lord will gladly come to us. It is a most ugly thing for anyone to speak for his authority in order to establish authority for himself. No one can establish his own authority. What one can minister to others in a locality can never be replaced by anyone else. If you have a ministry and others do not submit to you, they are the ones who will suffer the loss. God’s government is a mysterious thing. Many people think that they are growing spiritually, but unless they continue in obedience, God’s light will stop. They may not realize it after just one or two days, but after a while, they invariably will fall.
We have a good example in David. He was a person who never tried to establish his own authority. After Saul was rejected and David was anointed by God to be king, David still spent many years under Saul. He did not move his own hands to build up his own authority. If God has appointed you to be the authority, you must be able to pay the price to allow others to oppose you, disobey you, and rebel against you. But if you are not God’s appointed authority, it would be useless to even try to build up your own authority. I do not like to hear some husbands speak to their wives, saying, “I am God’s appointed authority and you must obey me,” or some elders speak to saints in the church, saying, “I am God’s appointed authority.” If you are a deputy authority, others will spontaneously submit to you. If they do not submit, they will fall back, and if they oppose you, they will not be able to go on spiritually. Paul said that all who were in Asia had turned away from him (2 Tim. 1:15). Those who had forsaken Paul could never advance spiritually. Brothers and sisters, never try to build up your own authority. If God has appointed you to be the authority, simply accept it. If God has not appointed you to be the authority, why do you have to strive for it? All self-established authority must be eradicated from among us. We must allow God to establish every authority, and we must not try to build up any authority of our own. If God has indeed commissioned us to be the authority, others will have only two ways to take: Either they can disobey and fall or they can obey and be blessed.
When a deputy authority is tested
When a deputy authority is tested, he has to trust in God’s government. There is no need to worry, defend, speak for oneself, or do anything at all. I dislike and abhor those who say, “I am God’s appointed authority.” When we set out for our work, we will find much opposition, lawlessness, and rebellion. But if we are truly a deputy authority, we do not have to build up our own authority or try to maintain it. If a man rebels, he is not rebelling against us, but against God. If he rebels, he is not offending our authority, but God’s authority. We are merely here to act as the deputy authority. The One who is shamed, criticized, and opposed is God, not us. If God can endure these things, can we not endure them? Who are we? We are just the lowly ones who follow Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is only right that we be despised. If we have not seen this, may the Lord be merciful to us. We have to realize that when others offend authority, they are not offending us, but the authority that is in us. I can speak from my own experience. If our authority is of God and others oppose and damage us, they are the ones who suffer loss; they will have no future spiritually; their revelation will stop. God’s government is a most sobering matter! We must learn to not trust in ourselves. We must fear God and know what authority is. May the Lord be gracious to us!