Power and Authority

(Matthew 10:1-4)

There is a marked distinction between power and authority. You can have the power to do something, but without the authority you are not able to do it. Similarly you may have the authority to do something but not the power. In order to be truly effective at anything you must have both power and authority.

Throughout the book of Matthew up to this point we see that the thing that separated Jesus from the scribes, Pharisees and religious leaders of his day was authority. At the end of the sermon on the mount we saw the people astonished because he, “…taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:29) The disciples too were amazed at him for he commanded the wind and waves with authority and they said, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him.” (Matthew 8:27).

Jesus himself marvelled at the faith of the centurion who came to have his servant healed, not because he believed that Jesus had the power to heal him, but because the centurion recognised Jesus authority to heal without having to be physically present. The centurion understood authority for he said, “…I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another ‘Come,’ and he comes.” (Matthew 8:9) The centurion recognised that Jesus had authority over diseases and only had to say the word and it would be done even though he were not physically present with the sick person. Finally we see that the evil spirits in the demoniacs in the country of the Gadarenes recognised Jesus had the authority to cast them out for they too were subject to his command. (Matthew 28-34)

And here at the beginning of chapter 10 we see Jesus about to send out the twelve disciples, and he gave them the authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal every disease and infirmity. They already had the power to do this work, for Jesus said of the twelve that the Holy Spirit was with them and would be in them (John 14:17). It is the Holy Spirit that gives the power to do these miracles and healings. Jesus could do nothing until he received the Holy Spirit after he was baptised by John the Baptist, as he did not have the power. He further testified that, “I can do nothing on my own authority…” for his authority came from God the Father and he could do only what the Father permitted. (John 5:26-30)

Today we see some of the leaders in the churches seeking the power of God to do miracles. They believe that if they had the power to do miracles that the world would be turned upside down as it was in Jesus time and in the period of the first disciples. These men today have missed the point for the real power that God gives is the power to become the children of God (John 1:12) and that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. As to the working of miracles and healing, that is a question of having the authority of God to do those works. Men today receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as they did all those years ago and so they have the power to do miracles, but not the authority.

It is my opinion, and I stress it is only an opinion, that the reason men do not have the authority to do miracles today is because of three main reasons.

1. The purpose of miracles was to confirm the truth of the message of God (Mark 16:20) and at present that message is not fully established in the churches.
2. It is my opinion that Jesus cannot yet trust man with this authority for it would go to a man’s head. In Acts we saw a man who wanted to buy the authority of God so he could do the miraculous works the apostles were doing, and he was condemned for his desires. He wanted this power and authority for proud purposes to set himself up as being someone of importance and his heart was not right. (Acts 8:18-24). Until a man or a church reaches the level of maturity in Christ that the apostles held they cannot be trusted to wield the power nor have the authority to do the mighty works of God.
3. Finally, I believe the time is not yet right, for the Lord said at the end there would be a great invitation sent out and many would turn to him before the coming of the Lord. (Matthew 22:1-10)

Today we need to seek the power of God to become the children of God through faith, for to do this is to seek the love of God. Love will last into eternity, but the miracles will cease. When the Lord returns and his kingdom is established there will be no death, no sickness, no disease and no evil. The very purpose of miraculous healing will no longer exist, but love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

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