III. GOD’S AUTHORITY
In order for the elders to know God’s government, they must first know God’s authority. Without authority, there is no government. Government is absolutely a matter of authority. How can there be government and administration without authority? The matter of administration is a matter of authority. In the whole universe, God’s administration hinges on His authority. Whenever we mention the administration of a church by the elders, we should immediately have the concept of authority. Today, however, due to the degraded background of Roman Catholicism on the one hand, and the so-called democracy of the age on the other hand, God’s children do not like to hear about the matter of authority. Once the matter of authority is brought up, immediately people question whether we are in Roman Catholicism or whether we are having a pope again. It seems that among the Lord’s children, once authority is mentioned, they cannot have a democracy anymore. Some would even say that authority is now being assumed, as if authority is a matter to be condemned. Brothers and sisters, the Pope should be condemned, and autocracy should be condemned, but authority can never be annulled. We have to see that in the universe, there is God’s administration, and there is God’s authority.
No matter how much man talks about democracy in these days, everywhere in the universe you are met with authority. Sometimes, man has stretched the meaning of democracy to such an extent as to make it an excuse for lawlessness. Yet he still cannot overturn authority. In the whole world and among human society, in everything you see the matter of authority. In the family there is authority, and in the school there is authority. In a business institution there is authority, and in the civil government there is authority. There is not a place where there is no authority. As a child, you have your parents as your authority. As a citizen, you have the government as your authority. As a student, there are the teachers and the principal above you. Even when you walk on the street, the traffic policeman is an authority to you. In the whole universe, everywhere you will touch authority. But God’s children are so bold today as to say that the church does not need authority and that everyone is equal. What a strange thing this is! Therefore we have to see that either we do not mention church administration at all, or we have to mention it by firstly touching the matter of authority. Without authority, there is no administration. In order for the elders to manage the church, on the one hand, they have to know God’s government in the universe; on the other hand, they have to know God’s authority in the universe.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)