Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Authority With Power

Power is the ability or capacity to perform or act effectively (Encarta).

In the Holy Scripture the word power is sometimes used in conjunction with the word authority; and they are sometimes used interchangeably.

According to Encarta authority is: the right and power to enforce laws, exact obedience, to command, determine or judge.

Thus we see authority as being the moral and the legal right or privilege to act.

When the two words, power and authority, are used together it speaks of not only having the strength and ability or capacity to perform but also having the moral and legal right to do so.

The two basic forms of authority are intrinsic authority (belonging to one’s essential nature) and derived authority (given to one from another source). Authority with power belongs to the essential nature of God.

“yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”
(1st Corinthians 8:6)

We are taught in the following Scripture that even the governments of the world exist under God’s authority and power.

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”
(Romans 13:1 NASU)

Therefore since “there is no authority except from God,” every kind of authority other than that of God Himself is derived and therefore secondary or subject to His authority. So it must be that even Jesus receives authority from the Father.

“So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him’.”
(John 8:28-29 NASU)

[When you lift up the Son of Man]

In this scripture it seems that Christ is saying, When you have crucified Me, and completed the measure of your iniquities, then you will know that I am the Christ, the one to whom the Father has granted authority with power, by the signs that shall follow; and you will know that what I spoke is true, also by the judgments that follow.

[then you will know that I am He]

Note in your bibles that the word “he” is in italics meaning that the translators added this word. Without the addition of the word “he” it would read---then you will know that I am. It is believed by some that our Lord here, and in other Scripture in the book of John, is alluding to the fact that He is the Great I Am.

[and I do nothing on My own initiative]

This is faith demonstrated; He does nothing on His own---He must hear from the Father first----thus He knows the will of the Father and then He is obedient to do His will.

[but I speak these things as the Father taught Me]

He speaks only what He has heard from the Father, thus He is a manifestation or He makes known the will and ways of the Father. He is taught truth from the only source of truth; thus His teachings are from the “Rock,” the very foundation of all creation and the wellspring of life.


“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
(Colossians 1:15-20 NASU)

And the Apostle Paul writes, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1st Corinthians 11:3 NASU).

[God is the head of Christ]

This is God’s ordained order; His chain of command established for the governing of His creation. The use of the word “head” in this Scripture denotes authority; hence the Apostle is indicating that God is the intrinsic authority over His Son, and His Son has authority derived from Him over every man, and the man has derived authority from Christ over a woman.

In the following Scripture Jesus’ authority and power is demonstrated in His teachings and in His ability to cast out or command unclean spirits.

“They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him’.” (Mark 1:27 NASU)

He not only has authority over “unclean spirits” but also has authority to heal the sick and to forgive sins.

"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" — then He said to the paralytic, ‘Get up, pick up your bed and go home.’ And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men (Matthew 9:6-8 NASU).”

Jesus gives authority to His disciples that they might experience the power that He has given them to preach His gospel.

“Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city’.”
(Luke 10:1-12 NASU)

The disciples return successful in their ministry.

“The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven’.”
(Luke 10:17-20 NASU)

In another account in the Scriptures Jesus gives authority and power to the twelve; and they were able to do all things that He did.

“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” (Matthew 10:1 NASU)

After His crucifixion and subsequent resurrection Jesus proclaims His authority before commissioning His disciples.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’”
(Matthew 28:18 NASU)

And then he commissions His disciples to preach the gospel that through it He might build His church.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 NASU)

The following Scripture gives an account of Jesus giving authority before His crucifixion to His soon to be apostles.

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.’ Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.”
(Matthew 16:13-20 NASU)

[I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven]

In the Old Testament keys belong to the steward of the house, the trusted servant, the one that the master has chosen to care for the household affairs. In Isaiah the prophet foresees a day when the false steward will be removed and a true steward will be entrusted with the care of Jerusalem. The symbol is used by Isaiah as he says, “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David (Isaiah 22:22 NIV).” In addition to the obvious suggestion of authority given to the new steward, the passage also suggests that the keys are symbols of trust and responsibility.

Keys as actual physical objects appear only rarely in Scripture, yet metaphorically they form an important reoccurring theme that runs between the Old Testament and New. As a motif, keys have long been recognized as symbols of power and authority, yet the image has more subtle overtones as well. Keys symbolize authority because they are given to those who are judged trustworthy, and a key is a relatively small thing compared to that which it opens. Thus keys as symbols suggest something of authority, power, mystery and exclusivity.

Jesus says keys, meaning many, thus there must be many keys of the kingdom of God. Peter had demonstrated his faith when he proclaimed by the key of revelation knowledge that Jesus is the son of the “living God (v. 16).” Thus by the key of faith he was proven trustworthy. The gospel is the key of knowledge that unlocks the prisons of darkness and sets men’s souls free. Thus the gospel is the key that is entrusted to men of faith such as Peter; this is the key of the kingdom of God.

For the one who gives the keys, they are symbols of trust and belief in the character of the steward. For the one who receives the keys, they are symbols of responsibility.

Further Scripture evidence that the word “keys” is used symbolically as authority and power is found in the book of Luke.

“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”
(Luke 11:52 NASU)

The lawyers had taken away the key of knowledge or rather seated themselves in the position of responsibility of teaching the Scripture. Thus they were responsible for giving the key of knowledge to the people. Jesus speaks of knowledge as being a key to enter the kingdom of heaven as He rebuked the lawyers (scribes) for with holding knowledge from the people. The key controls access. The lawyers should have used their offices to gain knowledge and to unlock that knowledge for others; they were stewards of the truth. Because they did not fulfill, but rather abused their duties, it is implied that the key has been taken away.

These lawyers are proto-types of some of today’s pastors, teachers and etc. that have seated themselves in the position of teaching the Scriptures. They have taken the key of knowledge and put their own prosperity twist on it for personal gain. They have abused their self imposed duties and lost site of saving knowledge, thus the key has been taken away from them and they have resorted to “ear tickling;” they will be judged for their deeds.

After entrusting the keys of the kingdom of heaven to His apostles He would also equip them with power. He was crucified and His blood was shed for the many, He was resurrected by the power of God and just before His ascending into heaven Jesus promises this same power to the church.

And appearing to His apostles at the Mount of Olives,

“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
(Acts 1:7-8 NASU)

Seven days after His ascending the divine order for the church was completed. The Church receives the Holy Spirit of promise with great power. A congregation of people, great or small, without the presents of the Holy Spirit is no more than a social gathering.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:1-4 NASU).”

By the Spirit they began to speak boldly with power and authority of the mighty deeds of God. There were thousands of people there from many different nations, speaking many different languages. The Holy Spirit came in the form of many tongues, a symbol of the Spirit speaking many different languages. As the Spirit spoke through the apostles the ears of the elect in the multitude were quickened and caused to hear in their own language. As they spoke of the identity of Christ and His work on the cross and the peoples need for repentance and of the saving power of faith toward the Son of the Living God three thousand souls were added to the church that day.

After the Day of Pentecost they continued to preach the good news of salvation through faith in the Messiah who had given His life in their stead. They, by the power of the Spirit that had come upon them, performed miracles of healing, cast out demons, raised the dead and caused the lame to walk and the blind to see as they ministered to the needs of the people. They were, by the same Spirit, the body of Christ in the earth. Like their master before them they were pursued by the enemies of truth, beaten and thrown into prison, persecuted and slain for the cause of Christ. They met in secret to worship and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and they went out in obedience to His commands. Like their Savior before them they were mocked, cursed and their blood shed for the benefit of the masses. This was the beginning of the building of the church of the Living God.

But it was not long before the spirit of the Scribes who taught false doctrines crept into the church deluding the minds and souls of many. The legalistic spirit of the Pharisees also entered the church, again putting the burden of ritualistic worship on the people. And the spirit of unbelief that belonged to Sadducees stormed the gates of the church. The message being preached is a twisted version of the gospel that appeals to the flesh. False teachers have filled the pulpits preaching a self-help message and a watered down version of the true gospel. These men filled with these deceptive evil spirits have preyed upon the hearts of the multitude. Thus the modern church has been filled with people who have sought the cross in vain because the gospel they heard has no saving power. Because of such false teachings the “visible so called church” has a form of godliness but denies the power thereof, thus the power and the keys have been taken away; it has become an apostate church, a fallen away church. The judgment of this “church” is drawing near and when it comes the fall of the apostate church will be great.

But take heart dear ones for there is a true Church; a Church of true believers; a people who have been bought by the blood of the slain Christ. It is a Church that has survived the onslaught of the enemy; a remnant of people God has reserved for Himself; a Church of power and authority. It is not a social gathering or majestic buildings with stained glass windows and steeples reaching toward the sky; all designed for the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. It is a Church of Spirit filled people who have laid down their lives for the cause of Christ; a Church with a history of martyrdom, a people who are obedient even unto death; a Church that is a pillow and support of God’s truth. It is a Church ministering to the needs of the people with authority and power. When the judgment of the apostate church comes and the tares are removed the Church built by our Lord will be revealed in all its glory. To this Church our Lord has given authority to rule.

“He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
(Revelation 2:26-29 NASU)

James C Sanford

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