Authority and Submission, by Watchman Nee


What a dangerous risk it is for God to set up authorities for Himself! How much He suffers if the delegated authorities He has set up wrongly represent Him! But God is confident in the authority that He establishes. It is much easier for us to be confident in submitting to representative authorities than for God to be confident in setting them up. Since God is confident in handing over authority to man, should we not be confident in submitting to man? We should be confident in submitting to the authority which God is confident in establishing. If there is a mistake, it is not our mistake. It is the mistake of the authority. The Lord says that every person should be subject to the authorities over him (Rom. 13:1). There is more difficulty on God’s part than on our part. When God trusts man, we can as well. When God is confident about His trust, we should be even more so.

Luke 9:48 says, “Whoever receives this little child because of My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” There is no problem for the Lord to represent the Father, because the Father has entrusted everything to Him. For us to believe in Him is to believe in the Father. But in the Lord’s eyes even a child can represent the Lord. The Lord can entrust Himself to a child. This is why He said that receiving a little child is to receive the Lord. In Luke 10:16 the Lord sent out the disciples and said, “He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me.” All of the disciples’ words, charges, decisions, and opinions represented the Lord. The Lord was so confident that He entrusted all authority to the disciples. Whatever they said in the Lord’s name, He acknowledged. Therefore, rejecting the disciples was the same as rejecting the Lord. The Lord could entrust Himself to them with full peace. He did not say that they should be careful in their words or that they should not blunder in speaking when they went out. The Lord was not concerned at all with what would happen if they blundered. The Lord had the faith and the courage to hand over authority to the disciples with confidence.

But the Jews were not like this. They doubted and said, “How can this be? How do I know that all you said is right? We need more considerations!” They dared not believe. They were very afraid. Suppose you are working as an executive in a corporation, and you send one out saying, “Do your best. Whatever you do I will acknowledge. When people listen to you, they are listening to me.” If this is the case, you would probably require him to send back a daily report of his work, lest there be any mistake. But the Lord can entrust us to be His representatives. What a big trust this is! Since the Lord trusts His deputy authority so much, we should trust such authority even more.

Some may say, “What happens if the authority makes mistakes?” If God dares to trust those who are entrusted as authorities, then we should dare to submit. Whether or not the authority makes mistakes has nothing to do with us. In other words, whether the deputy authority is right or wrong is a matter for which he has to be responsible directly before the Lord. Those who submit to authority need only to submit absolutely. Even if they make a mistake through submission, the Lord will not reckon that as sin. The Lord will hold the deputy authority responsible for that sin. To disobey is to rebel. For this the submitting one has to be responsible before God. For this reason there is no human element involved in submission. If we are only submitting to a person, the meaning of authority is lost. Moreover, since God has already set up His deputy authority, He must maintain this authority. Whether or not others are right is their business. Whether or not I am right is my business. Everyone has to be responsible to the Lord for himself.

(Authority and Submission, Chapter 7, by Watchman Nee)