Sermons. Authority of the State

When God established the rights, He also established the responsibilities for leaders of different levels. There was a certain order and certain demands that were established by God and without them, the state would not exist very long. It would have to be changed seriously.

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Pavel Zhelnovakov

Today I would like everyone who has anything to do with the authorities to be very attentive. We will touch upon very difficult questions such as our relationship with the authority of the state, its position in this world, what it should be like and what not.

It is possible that there are some representatives from various branches of authority here. Let them, Lord, hear this with their hearts and minds. It is very important for all of us.

Dear friends, we have been trying to understand a very important principle of the Scripture during these three services. The principle is that faith and growth in faith and the attitude toward authority are all interconnected. The people, who ignore the authority that was established by God in this world, can not grow in the faith.

I do not say that they will not be saved and that they will go to hell but I mean only that they will not grow spiritually. They will never reach the height of faith. They will never become, in the least degree, the heroes of faith. It is very possible that they will have more negative consequences in their lives because of their disagreement with God than others.

God has established three institutions of authority in this world. These are family, church and state. There are no other institutions of authority.

However, there are some structures that call themselves authority, but they aren’t. They are some parody and substitute that try to replace the authority that was established by God.

Our attitude toward these three institutions identifies our attitude toward God’s authority. Therefore, it identifies the growth in faith, based on God’s Word.

No one has ever seen God with his own eyes. It is impossible because He is holy. We cannot see Him with our normal eyes. We live in a different dimension than He does. We see Him only through faith.

We can express our acceptance of His authority by accepting those institutions that He established in this world.

So today, we will be considering the authority of the government and the state and the authority in the state and our attitude towards it. I have a difficult task in trying to cover a lot of biblical material concerning this topic within 45 minutes. This is why we will just be able to cover some certain details. So therefore, you are called to study and try to comprehend yourselves, praying to God and seeking His guidance in your lives.

Let us recall together a good passage from Luke so that it will penetrate our hearts, and we will be able to hear all useful details that God wanted to explain to us in this episode.

 

“There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,‘ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.” LUKE 7:2-10

I remind you again that the centurion did not talk about faith; he talked about the attitude toward the authorities. The person or the organization that possesses any type of authority does not have to be in the present time.

“Say the word” because you have the authority. The centurion somehow recognized that authority and accepted that. I suppose that his personal attitude to the authorities helped him. He was a Roman officer; a representative of the army which had the most strict discipline at that time. Apparently, no one could break the Roman discipline. There was a clear understanding as to what the authority was and of which they should obey and respect. The Roman officer expressed his attitude to authority that was presented by Jesus Christ. After that, he received a very good answer: “I have not found such great faith even in Israel”. That is why there is a connection between our growth in faith and our attitude to the institution of the authority which had been established by God.

There are three institutions of authority. This means they have their own borders. Otherwise, there could be disagreements which could lead to a war. The absence of borders could lead the churches to fight against the institution of marriage; the state will fight against different ideas. There are supposed to be the borders of established authorities. There must be the relationship between them so that our world could become a better world. If there are not any borders and relationships, chaos appears. It leads that disorder; blood and war come into the world.

With your permission, dear listeners, I would like to draw your attention to this particular question about the borders of the authorities. It is very important because the institution of the authority of the state was not determined by God from the beginning. It appeared due to certain circumstances.

I will not read the lecture about the state because this is not my goal. I will speak only of what God thinks about the authority of the state.

As I have already mentioned, the institution of the state was not established by God from the beginning. So, some time will pass and the authority of the state will be completely established in the Universe. There will be the authority of God’s Kingdom. Everybody who reads the book of Revelation knows about it very well.

 

“So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.” Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with this chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 1 SAMUEL 8:4-6; 9-18

I want to tell the story of the state through the eyes of the Bible. These verses tell us the history of the state of Israel through God’s eyes, but the same principle works for pagan states as well because the Hebrews asked for a king “as other nations had”. The point of this passage is that God warns them that the king will take the best from them and give it to his servants and make them slaves. Soon, they will not like the authority of this king and will present their plea to the Lord. However, there will not be an answer because this was their choice.

The Hebrews became a state very late. It is very important to notice that the idea of state or kingdom was not pleasing to God. At that time, God determined the king’s rights. At the end, the state determines the rights as to the king and his rein. The rights of the king’s authority were determined by God.

Dear friends, today we will try to question some privileges that certain people have; those who represents legislative and executive branches of the authorities. Please, read 1 Samuel before saying any judging words towards those people. I am saying this so that you will not have any regret after you have said them.

The fact is, God first told about certain discounts. They were for a king and his servants who are representatives of different branches of the authority. We can certainly become exasperated toward their discounts. The tabloids will help to keep the heat up about this exasperation because it is their goal to play dirty tricks.

My dear friends, God determined certain rights and discounts for representatives of legislative and judicial authority. Who ever does not agree with that, does not agree with God. We will come back to this again in order to clarify what is behind all these, because it is very serious.

It would not be fair to speak only about rights and discounts and nothing else. Let us come back to the story that was described by Samuel. The State system in Israel appeared, not as God’s Will, but as a wish to have something like other nations had. So, we have to accept that the State system is shaky. That is why the State system has always been the subject of envy, revolutions, bloodshed and conspiracy for many centuries. It shows that the State’s system is shaky. It was not established by God from the beginning; it was the answer to human beings’ rebellion.

The State system is a very shaky authority. If it is not supported by good attitudes of the citizens and the other two authorities that were established by God, family and church, then this state authority will not have any choice but to become a dictator. This case that this authority brings on itself is a death sentence.

History gives us many cases as to when dictatorship could not exit for a long time. It was destined to fail from the moment of its existence. We should pay attention to that.

That is why the relationships between the authority and people are not strong. They must be protected by prayer, good attitudes from the people, and by representatives of the church. It is very, very important.

So, the state authority exists and we should accept and recognize it. When God established the rights, He also established the responsibilities for leaders of different levels. Nowadays, we do not have kings but we have Presidents of countries, Presidents of Republic, Mayors and so on. There are different representatives of legislative and executive branches. There was a certain order and certain demands that were established by God and without them, the state would not exist very long. It would have to be changed seriously.

 

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us”, be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.” DEUTERONOMY 17:14-20

This is God’s word that was given to Moses. He gave these words to the people when they had not yet come to the Promised Land.

First, what is given here is a warning that God gave to the nation so that they won’t put a foreigner as a king. Everybody, especially businessmen, knows who “varangians” are and how many problems there can be from them afterwards. This, certainly, can be ignored.

There are some other important demands given to the elected king; such as, he must not acquire a great number of horses and gold; he must not take many wives so that his heart would not be led astray; he must not return his people back to Egypt (the symbol of slavery). He must read God’s Word carefully and follow His words; otherwise his pride will become puffed up. If he does all these, he will reign a long time.

Horses are a symbol of an army and the means of protection for the state, in other words, the problem of arming. We all remember very well how our country faced this problem. Then we had to get disarmed. The problem of arming the state and personal arming exists in every country.

Today, lots of money is spent in ways that it is not supposed to be spent, because this or that officer surrounded himself with all kinds of protection. You think about it: he protects himself from those who chose him! Isn’t it strange? It is strange but this fact exists.

1) God told that the existing authority must not expend its means of protection, because it is possible to fall into a trap. Then the authority will start working on its protection and not on the people’s benefits. We had this already in our country and in our Republic that worked on defense.

2) The king must not take many wives. It means that moral status of the authority should be clean. What do we see today? There are debates at a very high level to legalize brothels, homosexual relationships and so forth. It is already normal to accept marriages without state registration which means that the couple are living together as man and wife but are not legally married. Today, there are not a lot of people who complain about the advertisement in the newspaper “a girl for a night”, even with a certificate. We will need to accept the fact that the authority allows immorality.

3) “He must not accumulate a large number of silver and gold”. There is one danger to have a lot of gold and silver. It corrupts people. It is true, my friends, that excessive riches corrupt. A man receives pleasure from getting his wish, which is normal. When one has everything and there is nothing to wish for, there is a wish to get forbidden pleasure that happens in an illegal and immoral way. One moment happens and the riches turns into an inner corruption and curse for a man instead of being a blessing. So, these are demands to the authority from God.

4) the most important demand is the attitude toward the scourges of the authority. “He is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law”. He is to read it and meditate on it because this is how he expresses his attitude to Heavenly God.

This refers, not only to the king, but to every man in different kinds of branches. If he does not do that, he will not exist long. Knowing this, one starts understanding why people have to surround themselves with stupid helpers but who faithfully protect the “throne” so that nobody dared to “sneeze on the boss”. He does not care about the authority and those whom he represents because he does not want to be bothered. He stopped to revere the Source of the authority, the true authority of Heaven. The second part of the demand to the authority in the state refers to the people. When Samuel was elected to be the king, he addressed the people: “You have to have the right attitude to the authority. You wished, you asked. Now your duty is to obey God’s commandments and obey that authority.” This is the reason, when not obeying, that the cult appears. We have already discussed this concerning the relationships in family, in marriage and personal relationships with God as well. When people do not obey, they turn to magic, witchcraft, spirit worship and so on, which is awful before God. I confirm this with Samuel’s words which he said to the first king of Israel, Saul. He said: “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:23)

You know very well that the church used to sin very often. I am talking not only about those evangelistic churches that we know but also about churches known as historic. Orthodox and Catholic sinned by disobeying the authority. Those who know the history of Catholicism will agree that disobeying was very vivid there. I read a couple of rare books “Five Centuries of the Mysteries War” and “Inquisition”. These books are about the role of Catholicism in many indecent events in the human being’s history.

No wonder that many churches are deprived of goodness because they do not obey God. So, brothers and sisters, God insists that those who possess authority have rights and responsibility. He insists that those who are under the authority also have responsibility. We will come back to that later. Let us look at some biblical examples that our Heavenly Father gives us. Let us recall the well-known king Solomon. We will look briefly at his life when he obeyed God and his life when, unfortunately, he stopped obeying God.

“So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours? The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for-both riches and honor-so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statues and commands as David your father did, I will give a long life.” (1 KINGS 3:9-14)

This is Solomon’s prayer, a man had authority. He knew how the leader should behave. His attitude to the authority is still reasonable. Today the most important thing the leader at any level of authority should have is a discerning heart, which is able to distinguish the good and the evil. They say that the leader should know the management and go on expensive business trip, spending state money, in order to receive somewhere in Australia or Africa where people learned to put on pants five years ago in order to exchange the experience. It is not worthy to even pay attention to it. The most important trait that the leader needs is a discerning heart. The rest is also needed but it is not as necessary. You can live without pepper but not without the bread. The same is here. Many leaders ignore the discerning heart very often. They know a lot but only cannot distinguish the good and the evil. That is why some strange laws appear and some strange programs on TV are offered for us to watch.

So, Solomon was blessed by God. It is interesting that God comforted that country so that the name Solomon is still known in all religious systems. Any respectful person knows his name.

Then something happened. He forgot to look at God’s Word. May be he thought that nothing could have happened to somebody like him. He was very safe there…

Listen, this is a classic picture! It resembles modern days. As soon as any official consolidates his position he does not care about the law. But, as soon as forgets about it or if he ever considered reading it (God’s Word) then his inner world is corrupted. You remember that Solomon ignored all three of God’s commandments about the king. He accumulated the number of the horses. Three towns were occupied for keeping the horses. He was superior in numbers of his wives than Iran’s Shah. They say that Iran’s Shah had 500 wives but Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He accumulated so much gold that it became worthless. He made rugs from silver. Gold was brought by ships. May be he did not study the economics and did not know what the devaluation is but he experienced where it leads.

This is the result of ignoring God’s laws. During the reign of his unreasonable son, Rehoboam, Israel was divided. This is the perfect example of unreasonable authority.

We are going to continue our brief search. In the history of Israel only four kings were pointed out as devout and pleasing to God: David, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Jehoshaphat. The rest of the kings were not pleasing to God. If you open the 1 and 2 Kings on any page you can read about the king’s destinies: “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord… conspired against him and killed him...” One was a king just for a month, the other a week… This is the destiny of any man who does not respect the Highest Authority. He will not be able to hold the authority for a long time even if he will pursue it with the power.

God’s laws are established by Him for the Earth and nobody in the Universe is able to protest it. You know one distinguishing feature of the Israel people. When one king rose up and “opened God’s book” the situation in Israel was changed for the better. Then another king came with a different mind and heart and everything was coming back as it was before or even worse. Unfortunately, this is a sad truth.

Let us look at Jesus and His Apostles’ words. The Old Testament is far away from our time. It is almost 3000 years ago. May be something has changed during Christ’s time? May be the New Testament has brought us something new?

I think many know the opinions of some Christians. They say: “Since we are Christians then we have to occupy the main position in this world.” They claim to be unique in the authority. The history showed that they are mistaken in this question. There are three institution of the authority and they are not supposed to compete with each other. They do not have to fight against each other. They have to collaborate with each other. Nobody among them is the main. They all together have to seek the points of contact and the way of working together in those spheres that they are responsible. So, the New Testament. 1PETER 2:13-17

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

“…submit yourselves to the king…” Let us put “president” instead of “the king” and “mayor” instead of “ the governors”.

“…honor the king..” I am afraid that this word is very scornful among the Christians.

Who is very popular in this world to make an anecdote about? One can make hierarchy of anecdotes. The state and the government, and the officials do not take the last place there.

The Bible teaches to honor the king. My dear friends, what do we do when we start honoring somebody: write the anecdote or create a wonderful caricature?

“Honor the king”. God insists that the attitude towards the authority inside the country itself must be respectful.

If there is no respect or it is not expressed enough, then it will have influence on serious changes in the society. Imagine a person who has just humiliated the authority himself, came to the governing the country. What do you think he will do? He will never believe that he is respected by those whose interests he represents. It is impossible. He has come from the surroundings where the authority is not honored or respected. What will he do to strengthen his position and power?

He has several options. He can steal as much as he can while he is still there. This is the first option. He can get as many indecent people involved in his staff. They will support his authority with boldness and fight. This is the second option.

He can humble himself and start changing his attitude to the authority. This is the third option. This is the biblical way which is the most reliable.

I am afraid that Russian Christianity is not yet the leader in the right and opportunity to show the other countries how to honor the authority. The Bible teaches to be submissive: “submit yourselves…honor the king”.

 

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing“. (ROMANS 13:1-6)

Dear friends, I think of the authority only from God’s view. When the authority talks about itself, that it will expend its rights and gives a lot of facts for that, I am not interested in it. I am interested what God said about it. He is the highest Lawgiver.

So, according to these two verses from the Bible the sphere of the authorities, which is established in the state, is concluded in two functions:

1) To punish the evil. This is punitive function. We need to agree with that and bless the name of the Lord. He has established it. He said that certain people in the authority are god’s servant. To serve is the expression of the authority. “…for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

2) The second function is to encourage those who do good. Unfortunately, the authority has not progressed in it.

You can ask me: “How about the education? How about the business? How about the rest of other things?” My dear friends, this is something that can exist without the government. There is the private education and the private business. General speaking the state business is not the best decision, and any economist can prove it.

God clearly determined the state’s functions. These are to punish the wrongdoers in this world and to commend those who do good. That is why there are certain structures and laws. In order for this structure to exist the government has a right to establish the institute of tax collection. The government system produces nothing. It exists on the account of taxes. I do not touch how perfect it is in our country; I am talking only about the principle.

The government instituted the system of tax collection, by God’s determination, in order to punish the wrongdoers and commend the good doers. If a person does not accept God’s establishments and does not submit himself before God’s Word he protests against God. The one, who opposes authority, opposes God’s determination. That is how it is, my dear friends. It is all simple and clear.

And now tell me, dear Christians, how can the person who resists God, grow in the faith?

How can a person grow in the faith if he ignores the authorities? He can not. He is under the judgment but not under the spiritual blessing. It is worthy of paying attention.

It does not mean that indecent people do not come to the authority. We know about dictator regimes from the history. Genocide, concentration camps, violence happen in this world with the help of the authority. What do we have to do after that? The only thing can be told that God does not approve and does not bless such actions and regimes.

Let us ask ourselves what we can do in order to establish some kind of a balance of the collaboration work between three structures of the authorities: marriage which means family, church and the state.

From time to time we see that the marriage ignores the authority of the state. Sometimes, a husband or a wife tells disdainfully about the politicians or directors. Unfortunately, it is often scornful utters toward the authority that are allowed in families. At the same time, observe the same people when they need to receive the official papers from the officials. Where do they take such a nice voice… and the envelope with the present… It shows that families use the authorities. Yesterday they said ugly words toward the officials because they were not in need of them, but today they need something and they respect them. Hypocrisy! One must not live this way! There were times when the church humiliated kings trying to get the government to work as they want. The history tells a lot about it.

But we often see that the state tries to have family and the church worked under them. My dear friends, our task is to find a rational balance between three branches of the authorities that were established by God: family, church and the state. If we do not find it family will have problems, the church will experience the difficult times and the state as well. It is inevitable. All three branches will suffer.

When in Russia the church did not fulfill its tasks at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries the most bloody revolution and civil war happened. Did not the church suffer from that? It helped that bloody period to happen when it did not interfere into ungodly government’s actions. It did not teach or did not warn about something though the priests of the church knew about God’s view. The church was not able to hide from those threatening times of God’s judgments. Priests were the first ones who suffered. It is sad that the decent, true believers were repressed as well.

How about the family? If you read Lenin’s decrees and the work of Engels you will understand that the family did not exist for them as an independent cell. It was just a part of society that does one of the functions, sometimes very weird. For example, the birth of the future protectors of the Native Land. Lord, how much blood there was.

How about the state? The researchers tell that USSR in the 60’s preached what Russia had already had in 1914 under Stolypin.

If we understand this, we have to be interested in the collaboration with the state, family and the church.

I am talking about very serious things now! Very! If we do not comprehend them, there will be big problems. Who knows how many more tragedies our poor Russia will have to suffer? If the church does not understand this, it will have serious obstacles. It will lead to the situation that those people, who govern, will not be in the church’s surrounding. Creating the church subculture is very dangerous.

I think many of them want to come to God but it is not simple for them to be with ordinary people. Everybody is equal here; they will not be able to have bodyguards. What if somebody will tell something impartial? It is not a secret about the contemptuous attitude toward the authority. Authority pays back with the same. There is a quiet civil war in the country. Lord, have mercy on us!

What do you need to do, dear brothers and sisters? Apostle Paul gives us a clear picture of the church goal in Timothy:

1 TIMOTHY 2:1-3

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peacefully and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior”

We exclaim very often “Lord, what do I need to do that pleases you?” Pray, my dear Christian, pray about many people in the authority. If you know some of their names, underline them. The Bible says: “I urge, first of all, that requests prayers”. Make up a list of those people who you like or, probably, on the contrary and start praying for them. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior.”

When we pray it is impossible to say ugly words towards the authority. It is impossible to pray and say ugly words at the same time. It is incompatible. Two different streams of water do not come from the heart.

The second thing that the believers should do is to respect the authority which is expressed in obedience. That was vivid during the time of the first Apostles. But, as always, we talk about the creative obedience. Destructive, the obedience without sense and manhatred does not please God. We have discussed the obedience that pleases God several times. We will not stop on it again.

God wants to see creative character of the obedience in all three spheres of the authority.

So, let’s fix it in our minds:

1) pray for the structure of authority which is very serious;

2) the example of the obedience towards the authority for other people. I assure you that if two or three start obeying and honor the authority, the fourth one will start thinking of it. It is a pity that we see the opposite in life. One “black sheep” is able to turn other’s heads;

3) Do not hide from taxes. I am talking about that commercial “Pay the taxes and sleep peacefully”. I think that it expresses dishonor towards the society and humiliates people. I mean that the principal of avoiding and finding the ways not to do that is not a good thing. The Bible insists that we have to have a respectful attitude towards the authority in these spheres.

I understand that we did not have enough time to discuss important questions such as the attitude to the service in the army, the attitude to the fact that Christians are in the legislative and executive branches of the authority and other serious questions.

My task was only to offer you the principals of correlation of the faith and the authority and not to consider really difficult questions of our time. Let the Lord help us to grow in the faith and to serve heaven and native land with respect. Amen.