True Authority

(2 Corinthians 10:8)

True authority is meant to be used in a manner that helps people. The power of governments and other authorities is meant to provide assistance for those who are in need. True authority should enable those who have authority to encourage, help and lift those over whom the authority exists.

True Authority is from God
True Authority is from God

Unfortunately though, this is not always the case. Too often we see that the giving of a little authority into the hands of some people leads to many evil things. They use authority instead to lord it over others, to seek personal gain, to dole out their authority in a miserly way and to enhance their own position of power or wealth.

While this should be the case in all situations, it is even more important in the church. This is not what true authority is meant to do, and we see here Paul speak about the proper use of authority. Continue reading “True Authority”

In Jesus Name

(Acts 4:1-12)

In this world there are many religions, cults and sects. They all operate in the name of some so called deity or god and they invoke the name of their so called gods for all manner of things.

Authority in Jesus Name
Authority in Jesus Name

By their gods they seek help, wealth, power and so on. But their gods are deaf and silent and give them nothing for they are not true gods. Rather they are the fiction and fantasies of men.

But there is one name known among men that is all powerful. There is one name given among mankind that has great power for the owner of that name is neither deaf, dumb or blind to what occurs in this earth. This name is the only name by which a person can be saved and find salvation for it is through faith in this name that all good things are received, and in due time, eternal life.

That name is…Jesus.

Continue reading “In Jesus Name”

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

(John 20:19-23)

After Jesus had risen from the dead He appeared to the disciples many times. In these scriptures we see Him appear to His closest disciples, the eleven (bearing in mind that Judas had gone).

Jesus Appears to the Disciples
Jesus Appears to the Disciples

This particular appearance is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it was where He proved to the disciples that it was actually Jesus who was there and that He was there in the flesh. He showed them the nail holes in his hands and the place where His side was speared.

It was important that the disciples knew Jesus had truly arisen. After all, they were called to go out to the world and to preach the resurrection of the dead, so they had to know it was truth and that it was real. But there were four other things that The Lord showed the disciples in this appearance.

Continue reading “Jesus Appears to the Disciples”

Jesus Delivered to Pilate

(John 19:1-16)

jesus-before-pilate
Jesus before Pilate

When Jesus was in the hands of Pilate he was taken out and scourged or whipped by the soldiers. It was at this time that they mocked and spat upon him calling Jesus the King of the Jews and making a crown of thorns to place on his head. Little did they understand the truth of their words and who it was they were mocking.

Pilate was in a difficult position. As the governor of Jerusalem by appointment from Caesar, he had to judge all the matters of the Jews and to ensure or enforce law and order. And yet here the Jews had brought Jesus, a man they wanted put to death, but Pilate could find no crime worthy of the death penalty in anything Jesus had said or done. Let us see what he did. Continue reading “Jesus Delivered to Pilate”

Reason to Rejoice

(Luke 10:16-20)

After the seventy disciples had returned they were elated. They spoke to Jesus of the things they had done and the work accomplished saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Verse 17) But Jesus provides them with a different and better perspective and gives them a better reason to rejoice.

Power of God

The Lord gave the disciples power to be able to do the work he sent them to do. It is no different with anyone who has to do a job of any kind. If you don’t have the power to do the job then you will fail.

So Jesus gave the disciples the spiritual power to carry out the work he sent them to do. They were told to go out and heal the sick, cast out demons and speak the gospel.

Unfortunately it is too easy to get caught up in the elation of seeing this power go to work and lose sight of what is most important. The most important thing the disciples did and had to do, was to spread the gospel. But we see that their elation on returning was more about the miraculous power they were allowed to work in the name of the Lord.

Certainly it was a wonderful thing, but the message is the key. If they did not have or did not preach the truth of the gospel, then they would not have the power. It is the word of truth that really is the power of what they were doing, not the healings and miracles. Those things only testified to the truth of the word.

Authority of God

In order to carry out God’s work they not only had the power to do the job, they also had the authority. Again we know that if you are told to do a job, you may have the power to do it, but without the authority you will fail.

Jesus gave them tremendous authority along with the power so that they could achieve what he sent them to do. He gave them authority over diseases and unclean spirits as well as, “…authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.” (Verse 19)

But we see also that the most important authority he gave them was not the miracles but the authority to speak on behalf of the Lord. He told them, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Verse 16)

This is where their authority lay: in speaking on behalf of Jesus and speaking the words of the Gospel. The authority was so great that he handed to the disciples that Jesus showed them that when they were speaking it would be as if He were speaking and if they were accepted or rejected it would be no different than if Jesus and the Father were accepted or rejected.

Messengers of the Lord

The disciples were sent as messengers of the Lord to speak. And Jesus stood behind the message they spoke by giving them the power and authority to speak and backed it up with the signs they carried out.

The key to the work they did was to take the message to the people. It is no different today. As we speak to people our first priority is to speak the truth of the gospel and to stand as witness to Jesus Christ. We are now his messengers on this earth to stand apart from the people of the world as the people of God.

Above all other things this is truly a reason to rejoice for the Lord will give us the power and authority to do the work of ministry today when we are true to the word of the gospel. First find the truth so that you can testify to it and the Lord will bless you as he blessed the seventy telling them to rejoice, not because they had power over demons, but because their names were written in heaven.

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Power and Authority

Power and Authority over Demons

(Luke 9:37-43)

The power that Jesus had was not limited. More than that he had the authority to carry out the works he did. Nowhere was both his power and authority more apparent than when dealing with demons.

There were numerous times when the Lord cast out demons from people afflicted in this way. In each case the demons were removed and cowered in the presence of the Lord. They did not fight him for he had the authority to deal with them and they simply had no choice but to obey his command and get out as they were told.

In this particular case the demon that was in this boy was particularly strong. He had overtaken the child causing convulsions, what appears to be epilepsy and foaming at the mouth. When the boy’s father brought the child to the disciples to have the demon cast out, they could not do it. Thus it was evident that this was a particularly nasty and strong demon.

Why could the disciples not cast out this demon? Jesus shows that in his response to them saying, “O faithless and perverse generation…” (Verse 41) Jesus shows that the reason they could not cast out this demon was due to a lack of faith and a perverse attitude.

Faithless is translated from the Greek word “apistos.” It can also be rendered as disbelieving, which gives it a slightly different emphasis. To disbelieve something is a little different to unbelief, which is what is often thought when someone is said to be faithless. Unbelief means they “do not” believe, but disbelief means they “cannot” believe. Something that appears so incredible that it cannot be believed is disbelief. The disciples could not believe that they had the power and authority over demons especially when they came up against a strong devil like this one. Their faith failed them and they fell into disbelief and therefore were unable to exercise the power and authority necessary to cast the demon out. It was as if it were too great a thing for them to do.

As for the word “perverse” which is translated form the Greek word “diastrepho,” this too has an interesting meaning. The word can also be rendered as distort, misinterpret and corrupt. From this I believe the disciples belief was distorted to the point that they could not exercise the power and authority Jesus had given them.

Put these two aspects together and we get a few possible different pictures of why they were unable to cast out the demon. The disciples were either puffed up with their own self-opinion because they had this power and thus had a distorted view of the power that they had and so failed in their attempts to heal the boy. Or they may have been in awe of the power and in disbelief did not believe they could possibly be strong enough to do this work. Their view was thus distorted or corrupt and the lacked the faith to carry through.

There are other scriptures that could back up these possible scenarios. Consider the following which suggests they may have had a high opinion of this power the Lord had given and thus their focus was on the wrong things, which Jesus then rectified.

“17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.
20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)

The Lord gave them the power to do these works so that they could release the people from all forms of bondage as they spread the gospel. The power also bore testimony to the truth of the gospel, just as the miracles and healing Jesus did bore witness to the message he gave to the people.

Naturally when the demon came up against Jesus it knew the gig was up. He had a last fling at hurting the boy, but it was fruitless for unlike the disciples who in their weaknes and lack of faith could not deal with the demon, Jesus was the Son of God and all powerful. The demon’s number was up and it knew it.

The Centurions Slave

(Luke 7:1-10)

Have you ever considered the difference between power and authority?

It is possible for a person to have power but no authority, but typically a person who has authority also has power.

We see in this section of scripture a discussion of this matter and the importance of recognising the power AND the authority of God in our lives.

Understanding Power

Here we see a centurion call upon Jesus to heal a slave who was dear to him. The centurion sent some of the elders of the Jews to Jesus to make this request.centurion

It is evident that this centurion was a man of considerable power and authority. He was able to send elders of Israel to Jesus to make his request. In addition he had built the synagogue for the people, and so he was a man of considerable influence as well.

There are many forms of power, and that is a study in its own right. There is power derived from a person’s position, there is referred power when a person has the ear of another more powerful person. There is the power of influence and so on.

From what we can understand here, this centurion certainly had the power that came with his position as a centurion, but he also had the power of influence, for the elders appeared to have willingly gone to Jesus on his behalf.

But sometimes power is not enough to do as you may wish unless you have the authority to carry out your actions.

There are many situations where people may have the power to act but are restrained because they do not have the authority to act. War-time is a good example. A platoon or regiment of soldiers may have the power to unleash tremendous displays of force, but without the authority to proceed they must wait until directed by their superiors.

Recognising the Authority of God

However what we see in this scripture is that this centurion, despite the power that he had was also a humble man. He recognised that Jesus not only had the power of God, but also the authority of God to exercise that power.

This centurion understood the difference between power and authority and he also understood the spiritual nature of the work Jesus was doing.

This is the reason why the centurion did not come to Jesus himself but sent the elders. He knew that it was not necessary for Jesus to come to the slave physically to touch and heal the slave, but that Jesus only had to say the word and the slave would be healed. The centurion understood that God is able to do anything and it was not necessary for Jesus to be present in the flesh to do this work.

In saying these things it is clear he recognised the authority of God in Jesus and thus a miraculous healing from a distance was not out of the question. He believed God could do this if Jesus only said the word.

How does this help us?

God will give us the Holy Spirit if we ask the Lord for it. It is the Holy Spirit that gives us power. This was shown in Acts 1:8 saying, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

More importantly, the Holy Spirit does the work of transformation in us so that we can become the children of God. John 1:12 says, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” And as for the transforming power of the Holy Spirit it is written, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

There are some who would love to have this miracle working power and be able to heal people miraculously. I have heard some people try to “claim” the promises and power of God. But they cannot do this because God has not given them the authority. The key to miracle working power and using the promises of God is not in having the power, it is in having the authority.

I believe, and this is just my opinion, that Jesus has not given these broad miracle working powers AND the authority to people because man cannot be trusted. Jesus said that he would support and confirm the message of the truth with signs and miracles. (Mark 16:15-20) The reason these signs do not operate is because people are seeking them for the wrong reason. It is not the signs that are important, it is the message of the truth. If anyone wants the signs Jesus promised they first must seek the truth. Then Jesus may grant both the power and authority to carry out such miraculous works to confirm the message of the truth.

Jesus had the authority to do the works he did for it was given to him by the Father.

We too have not been left without some power and authority. Authority has been given to the church for the benefit of the people and the church. For example, we have the authority to heal through anointing with oil by the elders of the church as described in James 5:14-15 which says, “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up.” We have the authority to pray and operate various forms of ministry in the church. We have the authority to baptise and lay hands on people to receive the Holy Spirit so that they can enter the kingdom of God.

Finally, it is not important that we do not have the authority to do miraculous works. It is more important that we become the children of God. Jesus showed this saying, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'” (Matthew 7:22-23) As Jesus taught, our number one priority is to, “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)

(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ taken by Spanish Browne)

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You Can’t Sit on the Fence

(Mark 11:22-33)

This is a classic lesson that Jesus taught the chief priests and scribes and which provides a warning to all of us. The Lord hates fence sitters. Here is a perfect example of the way he dealt with them.

fenceThe chief priests and scribes came to Jesus asking by what authority was he doing the things he did and who gave him such authority. It should have been evident to them by what authority he was doing these works for it was certainly obvious to the people. They knew that his authority was from God and they recognised he was working by the authority of God. In fact even the Pharisees knew he was from God, but they refused to admit it. Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews and a Pharisee said, “This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) So they knew full well where Jesus was from.

But in order to find some reason to condemn him they asked him these questions to try and trip him up.

But Jesus was aware of their malice and so he answered them with a question saying, “I will ask you a question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men? Answer me.” (Verses 29-30) The chief priests and scribes were in a quandary as to how they should answer. They mulled the question over but could not come to a decision for any way they answered they would be shown up for their lack of faith. So they took the easy way out…they sat on the fence and said, “We do not know.” (Verse 33)

And because they sat on the fence Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Verse 33) They had refused to answer his questions so why should Jesus answer theirs? They knew where his power emanated from but they chose to ignore it, and worse, they opposed him. But the issue here was that they sat on the fence.

God hates fence sitters. There is no place in the kingdom of Heaven for fence sitters. In all situations there is a need for a decision one way or another. You can see how much he hates fence sitters and indecision in Revelation 3:15-16 speaking to the church in Laodicea, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”

Jesus also said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) If you are not with the Lord you are against him. There is no middle road. There is no way to have a bet both ways. A decision must be made either way and if the choice is not for the Lord, it is against him.

Why does the Lord despise fence sitting in these scriptures? Consider what a fence sitter is like. They are indecisive and cannot come to a decision. They are tossed to and fro depending which way the wind blows. They are attempting to please everyone and so will compromise themselves so as not to upset people. And you don’t know where you stand with a fence sitter as you have no idea which way they will turn.

We must learn the lesson he showed the chief priests and scribes in this section. They came to him with a questions, but because they sat on the fence they did not get an answer. If we come to the Lord with a question but are indecisive in our own minds and not fully on board with the Lord, should he answer our requests? Certainly if we are seeking the Lord for an answer we will get it, but if we are not being true to the Lord and are sitting on the fence we will not receive anything from him.

The lesson is to seek out the truth when you are in a place of indecision. Look to the Lord fully to open the door and give you insight. Open your heart and mind to receive his truth. Humble yourself under his hand and don’t waver in doubt or apprehension. As it has been written, “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silva’nus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:19-20)

In Christ there is no vacillating. There is no humming and harring but there is the definite “Yes” in him. He does not sit on the fence and does not want his people to either. Go to him and find the yes that he has promised.

(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/)

The Authority of Jesus

(Mark 1:21-28)

When Jesus had called the disciples he went from Galilee into Capernaum and taught the people. On a Sabbath as he stood and taught in the synagogue the people were astonished for he taught them as one who had authority. In this section of Mark we see the beginning of the authority of Jesus.

The people noted that Jesus did not teach them like the scribes taught, but taught with authority. The scribes had a position of authority and yet the people discerned a different style of teaching coming from Jesus compared to the scribes. This is interesting for it shows a significant change. The Greek word translated here as “authority” has the sense of: power, force, mastery, competence and strength. This was how Jesus taught the people, as one who was master and competent to teach these things.

By contrast the scribes did not teach with power and authority. They taught the people by giving them the words but no explanation. They provided information but did not give answers. In another place Jesus speaks of the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees saying, “They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.” (Matthew 23:4) Jesus also branded the lawyers in this same way in the Luke 11:45 version of this event. The way they taught the people was to put them into bondage whereas Jesus taught them how to be free. The scribes and Pharisees were the keepers of the law and charged with teaching the people. Jesus said for the people to listen to what they said, but not to do as they did for they were hypocrites. (Matthew 23:1-3)

When you consider today the way lawyers operate you can understand this teaching and why Jesus spoke of them as he did. Lawyers do not provide answers; they give opinions. If you go to a lawyer over some matter of law they will offer a range of opinions saying a matter may go one way or another. But if you want a decision in the matter you need to go before a judge or a magistrate to get a decision. The lawyer will provide arguments to justify a course of action, but there will be opposing lawyers who will offer an alternative course of action, but neither group of lawyers will offer an answer.

In the same way the scribes, lawyers and Pharisees of Jesus time were not offering the people answers. They had the law, which was quite clear, but they confused it and made it complex by adding their own traditions and interpretations. Look at what Jesus said about their teachings in Mark 7:7-13;

7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition!
10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die’;
11 but you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God) —
12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother,
13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do.”

They mixed their man-made traditions with the word of God and negated the law through their false teaching. Is it any wonder the people were confused and that in Jesus they saw someone who taught with authority for his teachings were truth.

We also see evidence of his power and authority in this same section. A man with an unclean spirit was in the synagogue and the demons in the man recognised Jesus and his power and authority. They spoke to Jesus saying, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” (Verse 24) Jesus rebuked the demons telling them to be silent and to come out of the man, which they did. This was clear evidence of the authority of Jesus for the people questioned and wondered about his teaching, as they had never seen anyone do the things he did before.

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:20) So we can confidently go to him and find the truth if we are prepared to look. He has promised that if we seek his truth we will find it for he will show it to us.