There is a third agent of authority. And that is the state.
In Romans 13, Paul taught that the government authorities have been appointed by God. Paul even calls the government "God's servant." God has ordained kings and civil officers whom He calls to govern by laws and policies so that the sinfulness of man be restrained and things be conducted in our country in good order. God even gives them the sword to punish the evil doer. Article 36 of the Belgic Confession provides a wonderful summary of the Biblical teaching on this.
Typically, governments do not acknowledge that they have their authority from God. In our country, called a democracy, the governments of course think they have their mandate from the people who elected them. That is only partially true. The full truth is that God mandates them. God uses the election to bring them into power, but He gives them the authority they have. Governments ought to realize that. The authority and power they have, they have from God.
Now that we have considered the source of authority and the agents of authority, we need to think about the style of authority. How ought those whom God gives authority in this world—parents, the church, the civil government—to exercise that authority? What ought to characterize their authority? In a word: Service. All authority ought to be qualified by service. Servant-leadership. To that matter we turn next time.
(Next we speak about the style of authority.
This series of blog posts were originally presented as a speech at the October 1998 Ontario Women's League Day in Ancaster, Ontario. Much of the spoken style remains.