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Spiritual Authority

How is spiritual authority acquired?

1) By becoming a Christian

When we become children of God, we are moved from satan's kingdom to God's. The very nature of this move gives us authority. We are no longer under satan's control but have been given power to overcome all of his devices. We may not know how to overcome but the ability is in us. In the infant stage we may understand our authority in Christ but lack sufficient power to operate in our authority. Faith is the operating power that enables us to enforce our authority. When we come into a place of revelation about our authority, not just a mental assent of it, we then possess power of enforcement. When we command, demand and declare our rights under the power of faith, things begin to change and move in the heavens. We can see great advancement and success in prayer and power.

During this phase of Christian growth we are limited to authority over ourselves and to maybe family, if married. The goal is to grow up and be able to help others who may need our help. We should not attempt to be independent at this point or we will suffer great harm. Even as an infant is not able to survive without physical care neither are we able to survive without proper input and care by more mature Christians.

2) by the Holy Spirit's gifts

When we are baptized in the Spirit, we are given power to function in the gifts that we have received. This ability gives us increased power and authority. We now have responsibility over one or more spiritual gifts. When we are prompted to use our gifts, we can be either obedient or disobedient to the Holy Spirit. The more we function in these gifts and are obedient to the Holy Spirit's leading the more ability we will have. We may even after some time of faithfulness find that our gifts are enlarged and expanded to reach farther and have broader effects. These gifts give us abilities to bless and bring healing to people's lives. We are at this point becoming vital elements to any body of believers. This however does not give us the ability to have authority to lead others. We must remember that the gifts of the spirit do not function because we are mature nor is it an indicator of spiritual maturity. Spiritual gifts can and should begin to function as soon as we are baptized in the Holy Spirit.

3) By calling

It is here that we receive the greatest amount of authority. When we are called to any position in Christ we are at this point put into a place of training that will eventually end up in advancement, provided we are obedient. This place of training may be in a church under some spiritual authority or could be at your job or home. It may also be accomplished in us just being some overlooked member of the local church. Many believe that callings should be developed under the authority of a local body, but God uses many things to bring forth people of authority.

Great authority is not automatically acquired but is systematically acquired as we progress through the various steps. The calling will usually be many years before the releasing into the office. It is not unusual for the releasing to be 15 to 40 years after the calling. We only need to look at Joseph, Moses, King David and the Apostle Paul to see an extended period between the call and release. It is during this time that we learn various things that will equip us to fulfill our call. We must not be anxious to run ahead of God and begin moving out before the time God has ordained. Even Jesus spent 30 years learning obedience through the things He suffered before being released into a scant three year ministry.

We may even be attacked by the established authorities and have to flee for our lives even as David did from King Saul. If this is the case we should not become bitter nor rise up against the establishment but wait for the time when God will dismantle and change it so we may come forth. There are many prophets and organizations that reject the idea that men and women of God can come forth apart from submitting to some religious authority. They fail to understand the scriptures and the power of God to work in people’s lives. God will raise some people up through submission to the spiritual authorities that exist, but also apart from them. This will be addressed in more detail in the sections on Prophets and Apostles.

4) by position

This kind of authority has been grossly overestimated in the body of Christ. Many churches teach that position equals spiritual authority but this is just not true. We are talking about those that are physically filling positions in the church of Christ. Position alone does not give anyone the ability to speak for God or be an authority in God's church. Yet God will use these people to accomplish His will. This should not impress us because God also used Pilate and the Pharisees to accomplish His will.

What most people misinterpret as increased authority is really an ability to be an authority. If the person who is entering a new position has been fully discipled by God to understand authority and move in authority, they will find that their spiritual gifts and insight will work on behalf of those who they are teaching and training. We are not actually acquiring new authority or even increased ability but there is a release of the abilities we already possessed. It may seem as if we just took a quantum leap in abilities but it actually is an enlarging to accommodate more souls with varying weaknesses and strengths. With more responsibility comes a requirement for our gifts to work more often. We will grow and increase our authority as we use our gifts more frequently. When we are placed over people in order to lead them into realms they have not yet gone our gifts must function on their behalf. If a person knows nothing about spiritual authority but only submission to some pastor or other religious leader, they are incapable of true authority. They will use carnal means to keep people in line. There will be neither gifts functioning nor any ability to lead, guide or protect. Jesus was constantly confronted by religious leaders that had neither authority nor any understanding of authority. Jesus also frequently rebuked them for their blindness and hypocrisy. This is a few of the things Jesus said to the religious rulers:

MAT 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

MAT 23:15 ¶ "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

MAT 23:23  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done  without neglecting the others. 23:24 "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! 23:25  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 23:26 "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 23:27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 23:28 "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 23:29  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 23:30 and say,' If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 23:31 "Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 23:32 "Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 23:33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? 23:34 "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 23:35 that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. We must constantly judge ourselves as to where we stand with God. Do we really know God or are we just doing a job? Have we attained a place of maturity or did we just spend the amount of time that is required to advance in the organization? Do we have a form of godliness and yet deny the power of God? Have we been obedient to current leaders and disobedient to our convictions? Have we put a man higher then we have put God in order to attain position? Do we persecute those that are gifted and spiritual because of envy? The answer to these questions will reveal our hearts.

Regrettably, Jesus declares to the religious rulers of His day that He would send the righteous to those unrighteous authorities. Matt 23:34 "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city."  The great mercy of God is shown toward the rebellious authorities while great hardship is guaranteed to those so called and obedient to God's will. This truth is not limited to just the first century but is ongoing till the end of the ages. Some of us will be called to churches and places that hate us and want us dead or destroyed. It will not be easy or enjoyable but God's will none the less. 


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