Much has been written and much has been taught about the topic, “The Authority of the Believer.” It is my opinion that while understanding this topic is critical to believers in the administration of their daily lives, much has yet to be revealed about it. Just to be honest, I think we have to openly admit that there is yet much we don’t understand, but it is also my opinion that God wants us to understand His Word, and has absolutely nothing to gain by our ongoing ignorance. If we understood God’s Word as He meant it to be understood, 100% of it, 100% of the time, we still would not be God, and He still would be.
Three critical questions do come to mind with regard to authority:
1. How can we get it?
2. How do we use it once we get it, and
3. Why is it given?
For many decades, I’ve heard much about this topic as it is usually taught, and the only problem I’ve seen springs not from error as much as ignorance. Some things can’t be avoided, and we can only teach from our base of knowledge. In regard to God’s Word, the best base of knowledge is obviously God Himself, and unless He divulges His knowledge to His appointed teachers, all we’re capable of teaching will be devoid of His authority, and hence, dry and dead, not capable of producing God’s life in us.
There can only be one answer to my question #1, and it presupposes another question hidden within it, namely, “Where do we get it?” Both have the same answer: our authority as believers comes only from God, and we only get it by asking for it, assuming as we always should, that we are willing to pay the price, for nothing in God comes free to earthly man.
It is a big mistake for us to assume that one day we have no authority, and the next day as new believers, we have authority. That is only half true. In fact, as believers we have authority in the sense that through the work of Jesus on the cross and due to His resurrection, we have the right or divine potential to have and exercise it. This leads us into question #2, namely, ‘How do we use it?’
We are given the right to use God’s creative authority only by God Himself, and only as far as Jesus exercised and demonstrated His use of it, that is, within the limits set by God, and born from obedience. I’ve seen much “charismatic” abuse of authority over the years, and sadly, still do. Again, the abuse comes by and large from ignorance, rather than purposeful error.
Frankly, most “teachers” in the body of Christ that I’ve seen, usually springing from the so-called “Charismatic Movement” of the 60’s and 70’s, were quite evidently never ordained by God to teach, and even if they were, they could only transmit the light they had.
I suppose the lesson here is one of the sin of presumption, and any label we assume for ourselves will be empty of divine impartation. Paul the great apostle, constantly began his letters to the churches by saying he was an apostle, ‘by the will of God’ or ‘called by God to be an apostle’, rather than men. I’m sure that because Paul was indeed ordained by God to be an apostle, and knew it, he was able to suffer much, as he was shown that he would, as he waited for the scales to fall from his eyes in Damascus. Why have we not seen this as a critical feature of his ministry – and ours?
Question #3 is easy: we are given divine authority in order to build up and prepare the Body of Christ for His eventual return, by exercising our ordained callings within His will, to accomplish His purposes on the earth. By the way, that is also precisely how and why Jesus used His authority, and He is always our bedrock example.
Now in 2017, we believers are the point of the spear of Christian history. Sadly, we’ve been well indoctrinated into some kind of “Christian welfare system” in our modern thinking. We are shown in scripture that we are called to be kings and priests, and thus, we jump from God’s clear intention of our position, to our active functioning as such – but without prayer, without seeking, and usually without exercising any of our will. We’ve been taught all too often by those not fit to teach, that we already are something, and without any effort or deep longing on our part. And too often, we’re taught to walk around waving our “credentials” in the face of the devil. I can guarantee from personal experience, the devil is not impressed by our so-called credentials, at least not in the same way that he obviously was impressed by Paul’s. In effect, our credentials are complete with the names of the courses we’re enrolled in, and the names of the degrees ordained for us, but without containing any certificate of graduation.
To sum, without putting in the time, and paying the tuition, we have no valid degrees. It should be painfully obvious that up to the current time, in most of the world, most of the time, “Food stamp Christianity” simply falls short.
We have every right to assume that God wants us to understand His Word and to walk in His ordained authority; we have none to assume that simply because that is His ultimate intention, we already have it.
Nothing in God comes free. Just ask Jesus!
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